Like a scene out of an old mystery movie, a British property developer recently discovered a secret passageway behind a bookshelf in his 500-year-old home. As Mary K. Jacob reports for the New York Post, 23-year-old Freddy Goodall also found an old safe, schoolbooks, letters and other artifacts in the Sussex estate’s network of tunnels.
Goodall, who first revealed his finds in a viral TikTok video, was looking at an 1870 photograph of a room in his family’s house when he noticed a doorway where a bookshelf now stands.
“I searched for it but couldn’t see anything at first, then realized it was hidden behind a bookshelf,” Goodall tells Jam Press, as quoted by the Post. “Eventually, behind one of the books, I found a hole that looked into the hidden room.”
Investigating further, the developer identified a passageway that led to a series of rooms and tunnels, some of which may connect to other structures in the English community.
“The passageways run all the way from one end of the house to the other,” Goodall tells Joseph Golder of the Zenger wire service. “When the passageways were in use, I believe there were some running miles underground to nearby buildings and a church.”
According to Zenger, Goodall’s family purchased and renovated the estate around 30 years ago. The home is located in Brighton, which is part of Sussex, a historic county in southeast England. Brighton stands about 50 miles south of London.
Goodall theorizes that the tunnels and secret rooms have existed for centuries and were used by staff to go about their work unnoticed by the owners of the 16th-century home, reports Jacob Heath for SussexLive.
The developer detailed his discoveries, including the safe, in a series of videos posted on TikTok and Instagram. One clip shows Goodall and his friends breaking into the iron box after several failed attempts. Inside were several books, including a volume dated to 1848, that detailed the house’s history. The group also recovered a letter written by Spencer Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton, when he visited the home in 1837 and a floorboard signed by George Stewart, 8th Earl of Galloway, in 1807.
During the early 1900s, the property served as an educational institution. Goodall believes some of the school’s students made their way into the tunnels, as he has found graffiti, schoolbooks and desks in different sections of the underground network.
“I found many names inscribed into the wall that looked like school pupils that snuck down there,” he tells Zenger.
Goodall intends to continue exploring the tunnels and rooms in hopes of learning more about their purpose and finding additional artifacts. He has no plans to alter the passageway and once-hidden areas, which now serve as a doorway to a bygone era.
“I left the rooms as they were,” he tells Jam Press. “I like that they have been the same for hundreds of years. There is so much history to be found in each room.”