|A subterranean priest hole at Harvington Hall (Quodvultdeus/CC BY-SA 3.0)|
During the Protestant Reformation in 16th-century England it was made High Treason for a Catholic priest to enter the country and anyone found aiding and abetting a priest would be punished severely. ‘Priest hunters’ were tasked to collect information and locate any such priests. If a priest were found, he would face torture and eventual execution. A system of safe houses equipped with hidden “priest holes” kept fugitive clergymen safe from persecution.