HIDEAWAYS blog

Secret passage found beneath Dorset landmark

The Dorset Echo recently reported that a secret passage has been rediscovered underneath Dorchester’s famous Corn Exchange.

The county of Dorset has once again proved that it is full of mystery and history, qualities that have resulted in Dorset holiday cottages near Dorchester consistently being some of the most popular in our portfolio of properties.

James Simpson, the Keeper of the Town Hall, alerted Councillor David Taylor of his belief that there were some underground secrets beneath the Dorchester landmark. Cllr Taylor then went on to uncover a trap door in the floor of the Corn Exchange and, after further investigation, he found what appeared to be an office and a prison cell that would have held up to five people. A tunnel was also discovered further on, although it had been bricked up.

Where does the tunnel lead to?

Although it has yet to be confirmed, Cllr Taylor believes that the bricked-up tunnel could lead to Dorchester Prison and a gun strong room, which would have been the town militia’s arsenal. He told the Dorset Echo, “the tunnel is a really significant discovery as it has revealed one of the first police station’s in the area, dating back to around 1760”.

Other secret underground areas that have previously been uncovered in Dorchester include a passage that local historians believe was used by Judge Jeffreys, who was famously dubbed the Hanging Judge for the punishments he dealt out in the 17th Century, and a tunnel that leads from the banks of the River Frome to Dorchester Prison.

Councillor Taylor, who also works for Dorset County Museum, believes that there could be even more underground passages that have yet to be discovered, with Antelope Walk, Glyde Path Road and Shire Hall all rumoured to have secret tunnels beneath them.

Although the tunnel is not currently open as a visitor attraction, it could be developed into such an attraction for people to enjoy during an English country cottage holiday with Hideaways in the near future.

Read Dorset Echo’s report on the discovery here.

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