Saturday, 17 December 2016

Tales of murder, recusants and unicorns in Baddesley Clinton

What better way to escape the hubub of 21st Century Christmas consumerism than wandering around a Medieval moated manor house?

We popped over to Baddesley Clinton, a 14th century National Trust managed property in nearby semi rural Warwickshire, home of the Ferrers family for almost 500 years, and just a 40 minute drive away from us, down country roads.

 Originally purchased by lawyer John Brome in 1438 and probably surrounded by the Forest of Arden at that time, the house has a chequered history.

 This back corner is the oldest part of the property.

John Brome's son, Nicholas, took a dislike to the local priest and murdered him, allegedly in what is now the library.  There is a bloody stain in front of the fireplace, but alas, the front part of the property where the library is was not built until decades after the foul deed took place.

However, Nicholas Brome was ordered to rebuild the nearby parish church as penance for his crime, and also asked that he be buried upright in the doorway when he died so that everyone who enters walks over him, so repentant he was for his crime.

It was only recently that we discovered the headstone, hidden under the doormat in the church doorway

We visit Baddesley very frequently, sometimes just to wander around the gardens, and enjoy the peace and quiet, and space.  The rooms are familiar to us but each time we visit we find something new, along with all the old stories we know so well.

In the main family room, a shiny white tusk sits in a dark corner, propped up against the wall.  A gift from the King of France, no less, and he was adamant this item was a Unicorn horn.

It isn't a Unicorn horn of course, (it's a narwhal tusk)  but if the King of France tells you it is, are you going to argue?

Anyway, I digress, Nicholas's daughter inherited the house from her father and married Sir Edward Ferrers, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, and it was Edward who extended and built most of what now stands as Baddesley Clinton, in the early 1500's.

 Peering through to the main hall from an internal hallway.

The main hall, dressed for Christmas past. The huge stone fireplace was previously in a room above the hall, the ceiling was removed and it was lowered into its new position, although close inspection reveals it was not re-assembled correctly.

withdrawing room, complete with modern radiator!

Fully panelled Tudor bedroom 

Complete with Tudor door, how many hands have touched this door?

On the death of Edward Ferrers, the house passed to his son, Henry, a noted antiquary.  Henry was responsible for constructing the gardens and adding stained glass in the form of coats of arms to the house.

Christmas tree in the library

Antique fire extinguishers in the library


The Ferrers were notable Warwickshire recusants, they refused to give up their Catholic faith in favour of the new Anglican church brought in by Henry VIII. 

In the late 1590's the house was rented to two Catholic sisters and became a hiding place for Jesuit priests.  Several priest holes have been found and there may be more hidden within the structure of the building.  One priest hole has access from the upper floor, straight down into the sewer via the garderobe (medieval loo), and could accommodate 12 people!

Garderobe priest hole accessed underneath the makeshift alter, note the magnificently uneven floor!

After submerging ourselves in Baddesley's history once again, we emerged into the brightness of 21st century daylight and strolled around the gardens, also dressed for Christmas.

Baddesley is known for scarecrows, and there were a few seasonal ones on show.

I did ask OH to sit next to Santa, he didn't protest too much and he's not telling what he asked for!

One more wander around the house and grounds, then off to feed the ducks 

 Got to wear my new Weirdfish macaroni jacket in Foxberry, which I managed to get reduced to £42 from £70 with free delivery, one of a very few new items I have in my wardrobe.  Also wearing very old bootcut jeans which have been reshaped to narrow leg, and a vintage 50p charity shop Eastex scarf

We always bring proper duck food to Baddesley as the ducks are very friendly, to the point of mugging you for food, as you can see from OH's expression

Ducks fed, and we left for nearby Packwood House, but that story is for another day, see you soon!


  1. We have visited during the summer but never during the winter season. We visited Whitwick Manor earlier this week which was lovely.

    1. So glad you enjoyed your trip to Wightwick, it is really pretty with all the Christmas decs up xx

  2. I'm looking forward to visiting BC and seeing all those fabulous things in the flesh! The stained glass window and fake unicorn horn are just brilliant.
    Can't believe we missed each other at Packwood! xxx

    1. You will love it! Stained glass is everywhere and the plain glass is so old and multicoloured. Lots of tapestries and some armour plus a very, very old coat on the landing xxx

  3. Thanks for the tour. Curious if you have to be a UK resident to be a National Trust member?

    1. Hi Sam, thanks for reading, I think if you are going to visit you can buy an overseas visitor pass from National Trust which covers all properties for a short amount of time. Link here for you: English Heritage also do something similar but most of their properties are ruins

  4. I love a moated castle, and this one is really beautiful. Even though I'm not a Christmas person, the decorated rooms look really cosy and inviting. I'd never seen the likes of those fire extinguishers! I would never get Jos to pose next to Santa though ... xxx

    1. It is one of my favourite places, Ann. Yes, the fire extinguishers are odd! xxx

  5. Look at that beautiful moat! What a lovely house - you and Vix are doing fabulous publicity for the National Trust! xx

    1. Ah, yes, we will have to get commission, thanks for popping in, Curtise xxx


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