Hall Manager Phil Downing Announces Priest Hide Stay

With just an apple, a loaf of bread, some water and a pot, Phil Downing, manager of Harvington Hall will be locked inside one of the Hall’s seven priest hides for 36 hours to help raise funds for the historic building.

Harvington Hall, the Archdiocese's grade I listed Elizabethan moated manor house, famed for priest hides has started work after being awarded a grant of around £117,000 to repair its bridges.

The Hall’s two bridges, which date from the 1700s, are the only way to access the hall which is on an island. The bridges are in need of repairs to ensure they can continue to be safely used, to allow visitor access and emergency vehicles.

Work on the bridges means that part of the moat has been drained, with archaeologists on hand to look for any hidden treasures from the Hall’s past.

The moat has not been drained since the 1930s, when archaeologists found spectacles, clay pipes and slipware plate fragments which have been reassembled and are now displayed in the Hall.

Harvington is one of the 17 sites funded by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which received £2.9million from Historic England for urgent repair programmes under the second round of funding via the Heritage Stimulus Fund.

Harvington’s £117,000 grant will cover a large part of the cost of the works to the bridges, which is expected to run to nearly £150,000. The Hall is launching a fundraising campaign for an extra £30,000 to hit its target.

Phil will be live streaming periodically via the Harvington Hall Facebook page during his incarceration.

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