Hindlip Hall, three miles south of Droitwich, is well known as the headquarters of West Mercia Police, but it is also associated with two of history’s greatest crimes.
The present stately home, which dates from 1820, replaced an earlier 16th century building which played a role in both the Babington Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament during the State Opening.
It was built by John Habington, an official in the court of Elizabeth I, whose sons Edward and Thomas conspired to put a Catholic queen on the throne. Edward was beheaded but Thomas was shown mercy as he was a godson of the monarch.
Following his release from prison, Thomas and his wife, Mary, retired to Hindlip Hall, and engaged Nicholas Owen, the country’s principal builder of priest holes, to adapt the building as a refuge for Catholic priests.
Jesuit priest Edward Oldcorne was secretly at Hindlip at the time the Gunpowder Plot was discovered in November 1605. The following month, he was joined in hiding by Nicholas Owen, Henry Garnet and Ralph Ashley, who were all under suspicion.
In the January, the hall was searched for 12 days before two of the men were discovered in chimneys and the other two surrendered. Although none were directly involved in the plot, they were executed for complicity – or just for their faith.
Edward was hanged, drawn, and quartered in Worcester. He was beatified in 1929.
Thomas was also arrested, and sentenced, but spared once more.