In August Cookhill WI members take the opportunity to go on an outing instead of the usual meeting in the Village Hall. This year we were delighted to find a hidden gem nestling on the outskirts of Kidderminster.Harvington Hall is a moated medieval and Elizabeth manor house. Many of the rooms still have their original Elizabethan wall paintings and the Hall contains the finest series of priests hiding places anywhere in the country. During the 19th Century it was stripped of furniture and panelling and the shell was left almost derelict. However in 1923 it was bought for the Roman Catholic Archdioceses of Birmingham which restored it and now opens to the public.

On arrival members enjoyed a picnic in the grounds surrounding the Hall. After lunch our extremely knowledgeable guide took us on a tour of the House. This Elizabethan house was built in the 1580’s by Humphrey Pakington. On his death it was inherited by his daughter Mary, Lady Yate. In 1696 the Hall passed to the Throckmortons of Coughton Court. The Hall is surrounded by a moat where we could stand and view the frontage of the Hall- original Tudor with two additions added at a later date. Taking us through into the kitchen we could experience the working life of the servants in the Hall, a room with two fireplaces, with spit, bread oven and a well providing water from a spring. Our guide pointed out the first of the many priest “hide” over the bread oven – small and extremely hot. He took us then through all the levels of the house, seeing Lady Yate’s bedroom, the main dining room, the nursery and then to the top of the Hall where the Chapel was situated. On route the many priest “hides” were revealed. Lots of fascinating information was imparted by our guide who was very interesting and entertaining making the visit memorable. We finished our tour at the lovely tearoom where an English Tea had been prepared for our enjoyment before our journey home. A truly delightful property to visit which is on our doorstep.

Cookhill WI meets the second Wednesday of each month 7.30pm at Cookhill Village Hall, providing a variety of speakers to suit all tastes together with opportunities to participate in classes and enjoy trips out to interesting venues. New members very welcome.