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Philip Evans


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SEATON:Raising the roof sheds light on pub history

Tuesday, 08 July 2014

Recent repair work carried out at a Branscombe pub has revealed a 400-year-old secret hidden in its attic. Following last winter’s stormy weather, the roof of the 14th century Mason’s Arms alehouse was removed for repairs to the rafters, but workmen were shocked to discover a secret chamber under the eaves. Landlady Alison Ede was also mystified by the discovery. She said: “We had absolutely no idea of the room’s existence. It is obviously part of the fabric of the building so it has to have been there for centuries. But who lived in it and why?” While the occupant of the secret room remains a mystery, experts believe it may be connected to religious turmoil in the village following Henry VIII’s 16th century reforms. Many old manor houses and historic buildings in the area possessed ‘priest-holes’ to hide Catholics from Protestants. The history of the inn can be traced back as far as the 1360s, and was famously frequented by skilled masons contracted to work on the construction of Exeter Cathedral. And as part of the ongoing repairs to the pub, the secret room is set to feature strongly in the future of The Mason’s Arms. Alison Ede added: “We have been looking to add a new function and meeting room to the pub and this will fit the bill perfectly. “Who knows what secret plans were discussed up there back in the day? At least anybody wanting to book the room in future can certainly be guaranteed privacy as well as a truly historic setting.” The Mason’s Arms beer festival is set to get underway next weekend (July 18th-20th), featuring a range of live music and 18 different guest ales and ciders from across the South West.

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