What lies beneath: Reader shares pictures of secret cellar

PUBLISHED: 09:59 05 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:37 05 February 2018

This 200-year-old cottage in Clifton, Beds, had a hidden room

This 200-year-old cottage in Clifton, Beds, had a hidden room

Archant

Did you read our recent story about one in 10 homes housing secret rooms and think ‘yeah, right’? Well you’d have been wrong to scoff!

Secret space: The unearthed staircase Secret space: The unearthed staircase

A reader has come forward and admitted his former home had a hidden cellar – and he believes this sort of thing is more common than any of us would imagine.

Mr Taylor (he asked that we didn’t use his first name) bought the 200-year-old, two-bed detached cottage in Clifton, Bedfordshire, in 1994 and had lived there for five years before an elderly neighbour filled him in on some interesting information about the property.

Mr Taylor had lived at the property for five years before he unearthed the cellar Mr Taylor had lived at the property for five years before he unearthed the cellar

“She mentioned to me that my house had a cellar,” Mr Taylor said. “I thought she may be getting confused – she must have been in her 90s – but she was quite clear that she used to play in the cellar when she was a young girl and there was a swing down there and it always used to flood. She seemed quite adamant.”

Mr Taylor, now 52, initially disregarded the conversation – all the downstairs floors were concrete and a hidden cellar seemed an unlikely proposition.

However, one evening he decided to investigate – and quickly realised the lady had been right.

The now Mrs Taylor and the couple's dog, Sprokett, helped unearth the hidden room The now Mrs Taylor and the couple's dog, Sprokett, helped unearth the hidden room

“Under the stairs was a cupboard where the electricity meter was,” he explained. “I tapped my foot on the carpet and realised that there were wooden floorboards - not concrete - underneath.

“I shone my torch in between the floorboards and saw a four or five inch drop. I then pulled a couple of the floorboards up and noticed there was rubble and bricks.”

An elderly neighbour told Mr Taylor that she had played in the cellar as a child An elderly neighbour told Mr Taylor that she had played in the cellar as a child

Pulling a few bricks out, he saw there was a step: “It was like an Indiana Jones thing - I was quite excited!”

That weekend Mr Taylor hired a skip and started working his way through the rubble, unearthing step after step until he reached the cellar floor.

“I got to the bottom and there was a doorway on the left hand side,” he said. “Looking in the doorway you could see it was packed full of rubble, bricks and dirt. There was a newspaper down there too, I think it was from 1967.”

It's likely that the cellar was hidden for more than 30 years It's likely that the cellar was hidden for more than 30 years

Following further investigation, Mr Taylor found that filling in cellars was once a normal means of resolving flooding issues when extra space wasn’t such a sought-after commodity.

“They used to just fill the cellars up, they had no use for them,” he said. “My front room in that house is sitting on rubble. They filled the cellar up to the top, then put a concrete base in.”

Converting the cellar into a useable room would be quite a task, and as yet Mr Taylor – who moved out of the property eight years ago, and now rents it out – hasn’t bothered. “You’d have to dig all the rubble out then you’d have to tank it”, he said, adding that he’s grateful for the hand fate played in his discovery of the 10ft sq space: “If I hadn’t bumped into that old woman in the street it would still be sealed up. I wouldn’t have thought to pick the carpet up and have a look.”

And while the recent Hillarys survey saying that one in 10 of our homes are hiding secret rooms seemed on the high side, if Mr Taylor’s experience is anything to go by, the opposite may be true.

He now lives in an old Victorian pub in nearby Shefford that may also be harbouring a little secret: “The neighbours told me that that house has got a cellar as well, but it’s been filled in. I don’t know whereabouts in the house it is. Call me Peter Sellers. If you want to find a cellar I’m the man!”

Is your home also harbouring a hidden room? We’d love to hear all about it if so! Email jane.howdle@archant.co.uk

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