The theme for this week’s #FeatureFridays with Historic Houses is secret passageways.
As well as the rooms open to visitors at Hever Castle there are also secret passageways and secret rooms which are not on display.
On the ground floor one of these secret passageways is hidden behind an ornate panel in the Drawing Room.
Originally used in Tudor times as the larder and dairy, former owner William Waldorf Astor converted this room into the Drawing Room in 1905. Designed and panelled by the architect Frank Loughborough Pearson, the beautiful panels are made from oak, bog-oak and holly and are each unique with the exception of one duplicate.
Behind one of the panels which were inspired the Elizabethan Inlaid Chamber at Sizergh Castle, Cumbria is access to the medieval tower. As the turret was not needed for defensive purposes a secret door was cleverly integrated into the panelling, behind which the Astors hid their drinks cabinet.
You can see inside one of the secret passageways in this video with Dr Owen Emmerson.
As part of the Hidden Hever tour visitors get to see behind doors that are not usually open to the public. Secret passageways on show as part of the tour include William Waldorf Astor’s study which is accessed via the Library.
Astor’s Study contains some of the 2,000 rare books that he amassed, as well as his collection of crystal balls – a nod to the fascination with the occult that he shared with his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who visited Astor here at Hever.
The study also contains many small hidden cupboards and shelves, built into the exquisite carved bookcases and only accessible via discretely placed release buttons.
The study also contains two secret passageways: one panel leads to another turret and one which reveals Lord Astor’s bathroom, which is also accessed via a hidden button that opens the secret panel.
The hidden bathroom was created from the original guard room in the Medieval castle keep and overlooks both the moat and castle courtyard.