Friday, 18 November 2016

A Secret Chamber below the Sign of the Feathers, Wheelergate, Nottingham

Extract from A Guide to Old Nottingham, compiled for the Patriotic Fair May 28 and 29th 1917 by Harry Gill.

Proceeding down Wheelergate, the visitor should notice the brick building next to the Moot Hall, 
with three shaped and moulded gables. If we may judge by a coat of arms in the ornamental ceiling of the ground floor, the house was built by Edward Bradyll, surveyor of the woods beyond Trent, 
belonging to the King's Duchy of Lancaster. 

Here indeed is material for romance Notwithstanding that the family of Bradyll had received Abbey lands and possessions at the Dissolution, and  notwithstanding that they held office of the King, they remained faithful to the Roman Catholic Church. When this house was built, penal laws were in force against the Catholics. 

It was not surprising, therefore, to find beneath this house, a secret chamber, hewn in the solid rock, which had every appearance of having been used for the celebration of the Mass. Several other houses of the same period, notably on the Long Row, in Weekday Cross, and in Broad Marsh, were also provided with similar chambers.

A little lower down Wheeler Gate, on the same side, there is another fine old house, entered by the 
side door in Eldon Chambers, which contains a good staircase, lead down spouts and some very fine 
sashes with "blown" glass; as may be seen by the reflected light and iridescent tints of its smooth but 
uneven surface.

This extract is not entirely reliable - Edward Braddyll, Surveyor of Woods beyond the Trent had been long dead.

I can find no other reference to this cave - there appears to have been no archeological excavations at the site after the building was demolished, despite its important position in the medieval town  - given the haste of construction in the sixties it is quite possible that it was quickly and quietly covered over in order to forego any delay caused by the intervention of archeologists.

Post World War II photograph of 4 - 6 Wheelergate.

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