High Chapel Hide

Harvington Hall - High Chapel Hide

Not only does Harvington Hall have some of the best preserved priest holes (hides) in Britain, it also had a concealed chapel where Mass could be held by whichever priest was in the residence at the time.

Two steps lead up from the Nursery to the Chapel, which is decorated with a late 17th century design of red vines, lilies and pomegranates painted directly on to the whitewashed brickwork. The present altar makes use of a 17th-century chest of drawers and stands in the original position against the north wall below the window. The first priest recorded at Harvington is Samuel Smallman, who was ordained in Rome in 1603 and later buried at Chaddesley in 1613 after ‘falling off his horse’.

The hide for storing Catholic altar items can be seen in the far left corner of the chapel. Close to the altar, two floor-boards cover a small hide used for the sacred vessels and vestments used during the Catholic Mass. In the early days of persecution all such furnishings had to be capable of concealment at a moment’s notice.