Man to spend 36 hours in priest hide with just an apple, bread, water and a chamber pot

The manager of an historic medieval and Elizabethan moated manor house is preparing to spend 36 hours in a priest's hide to raise vital funds for repair work to be carried out.

Getting ready to raise money by spending 36 hours in a priest hole, hall manager Phil Downing, at Harvington Hall, Kidderminster
Getting ready to raise money by spending 36 hours in a priest hole, hall manager Phil Downing, at Harvington Hall, Kidderminster

Phil Downing, the 33-year-old manager of Harvington Hall, at Harvington, near Kidderminster, will start his unusual challenge at 7am on November 29.

All he plans to take with him into his confined space, which was built into the building many years ago, will be a loaf of bread, an apple, a bottle of water and a chamber pot.

His sojourn will realistically resemble those that Catholic priests had to endure while escaping from persecution.

The manor house, which was given to the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 1923 by the then owner, is thought to be among the properties in the country containing the most priest hides.

Phil said: "I am hoping to raise funds by literally replicating what the priests had to endure.

"The hides are quite small and cramped spaces so it will be a challenge.

"I plan to be in the hide for 36 hours and will only have a loaf of bread, an apple, water and a pot.

"I will also be taking with me a night vision camera so that I can keep a video diary of my challenge.

"The money I raise will go towards the cost of repairs to a bridge which will cost £30,000..

"We also have wall-paintings which need protection.

"As yet we do not know the full costing of the restoration work that is needed.

"Work on the bridge has started but the total cost for the repair work we estimate will total £150,000.

"I just hope to raise as much as possible towards the cost of repairs.

"People can donate money through the Harvington Hall website or through social media such as Facebook or Twitter."

By Sue Smith

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