10 Eccentric Homes with Hidden Passageways
If you ever find yourself in San Francisco with an extra $10,000 to spend, you might consider checking into the Penthouse Suite at the Fairmont Hotel. For that $10,000, you have your run of the entire eighth floor of the hotel, which includes three bedrooms, a dining room that seats 50 people, a billiards room, a bathroom with 24-karat-gold fixtures and a two-story library [source: Valhouli]. And on the second floor of the library, if you know just where to press, you can access a hidden passageway and live out your favorite Batman fantasy.
But if you put that $10,000 toward installing a hidden passageway in your own home, then you could act like a superhero whenever you wanted. Hidden passageways aren’t just for detective novels and comic books; they are increasingly showing up in private homes [source: Summers-Sparks]. The 10 homeowners on this list decided a hidden passageway was a home design feature they just couldn’t live without, though you’ll have to judge for yourself how that turned out for them. After all, the hidden passageways on this list were used for everything from romantic assignations to alleged murders.
Read on to find out about these eccentric homes, and see if it’s worth adding a hidden passageway to the requirements for your dream house. We’ll get started with one millionaire who concealed himself to spy on his friends. Find out who this sneaky homeowner was on the next page.
- Singer Castle
- Wolf’s Lair Castle
- Franklin Castle
- Britannia Manor
- Sessions House
- The Octagon House
- The Gillette Castle
- Körner’s Folly
- The Coffin House
- Winchester Mystery House
10: Singer Castle
It was 1896 when Commodore Frederick G. Bourne decided he needed a summer home and hunting lodge. As the president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, he had the money to build a five-story castle on Dark Island in the St. Lawrence River of New York. And what’s a proper summer home and hunting lodge without an icehouse that facilitates turn-of-the-century entertaining, a library to hang the heads of your game trophies, and of course, secret passageways and a dungeon?
In Bourne’s lifetime, the castle was known as The Towers, but in recent years has been renamed Singer Castle. Unlike some of the more nefarious purposes that hidden passageways serve in the other homes on this list, Frederick Bourne apparently had a very simple reason for wanting them. Like many of us, Bourne wanted to know what his guests really thought of him, so his secret passageways allowed him to subtly escape a gathering to spy on the party.
If fellow self-made millionaires Cornelius Vanderbilt and Vincent Astor were over, Bourne might have slipped through one of the wooden panels in the library to access the stone spiral staircase. From a floor above, he could sit in a corridor and peer through a metal grate at his visitors. From that height, no one would have noticed if a large painting on the wall suddenly tilted a bit; Bourne would have pushed on it to listen in on the chitchat below [source: McCarron]. If Bourne wasn’t in the mood for eavesdropping, a hidden passage also led to the wine cellar.
Remember those nefarious purposes I mentioned earlier? Click ahead to read about the hidden passageway that allegedly allowed one homeowner to have countless affairs with Hollywood starlets.
9: Wolf’s Lair Castle
Wolf’s Lair Castle in Hollywood, Calif., was named for its designer, art director L. Milton Wolf. Wolf wanted a replica of a Norman castle, complete with a turret designed especially for his pet gibbon [source: Pavlik]. In addition to the gibbon’s dwellings, there are eight bedrooms and six bathrooms between the main house and the guest house, as well as a heart-shaped pool and a speakeasy. The house was constructed in 1927, so the speakeasy provided a quick refuge during the bans of Prohibition.
From Wolf’s Lair Castle, you have an incredible view; you can see downtown Los Angeles, Catalina Island and the famed Hollywood sign. What you won’t see is the hidden passageway between the main house and the guest house. According to the gossip of the day, Wolf put a secret apartment beneath the guesthouse so that he could indulge his taste for young Hollywood starlets [source: Brenoff]. The womanizer would take the secret passageway to meet his dates while his unsuspecting wife snoozed only a few hundred feet away.
In June 2008, the property went on the market for $7.5 million, but musician Moby bought it for just $4 million in 2010 and then put about $2 million in restorations into it [source: Wadler]. It was likely a better buy than the next eccentric home on our list, which has passed hands many times over the years due to a little problem with ghosts. Find out who might have used his secret passageways to carry out murder on the next page.
8: Franklin Castle
Nothing earns a home the reputation of eccentricity quite like rumors that it’s haunted. So we come to Franklin Castle, in Cleveland, Ohio, which was built in 1865 by a German immigrant named Hannes Tiedemann. Tiedemann had done quite well in various businesses that included barrel-making, banking and grocery stores, so he spared no expense in building the home for his wife. Once in the home, the family quickly grew to include several children.
Then the children began to die. As the whispers started circulating through town that perhaps there was more to these deaths than met the eye, Tiedemann decided to build on to the house to distract his wife from her grief. Apparently Tiedemann thought that what his wife really needed were features like turrets and gargoyles, which made the home look even more like a castle. He put in hidden passageways and secret rooms all around the house, as well as a ballroom that spanned the entire length of the structure.
But the redecoration didn’t stop the deaths. One legend has it that Tiedemann hung his teenage niece from the rafters in a hidden passageway off the ballroom, either because she was insane or promiscuous [source: Taylor]. Tiedemann may have also murdered a servant on her wedding day because she would not return his amorous advances [source: Lane]. Their ghosts may haunt the home. The only decent use of the passageways may have been by Mrs. Tiedemann, who used them to visit with her children away from the ill-tempered Mr. Tiedemann [source: Lane].
The weirdness didn’t stop with Tiedemann, though. The home was later used by the German Socialist Party. It’s said that the voices sometimes heard in the halls might be those of the 20 party members who were supposedly gunned down in one of the secret rooms. When the home was used as a boarding house, one occupant found a secret room that contained dozens of skeletons of human babies. A doctor could only conclude that the bones were indeed human and very old, but some speculated that they had been victims of botched medical experiments [source: Taylor].
Franklin Castle has passed through the hands of numerous owners since the 1960s, some of whom have complained about troubles with ghosts and odd occurrences. But any odd occurrences at the next home on our list were probably manufactured by its owner. Turn the page to find out about the ultimate in haunted houses.
7: Britannia Manor
If you play Ultima Online, a series of online role-playing games, then you may know Richard Garriott as Lord British. Lord British is the in-game avatar of Garriott, a computer designer and programmer. And Garriott isn’t just Lord British online; when he hosts his famous haunted house at his Austin, Texas, mansion, he does so in Lord British garb.
Even when it’s not Halloween, Garriott’s house, Britannia Manor, is an interesting place to be. The 4,500 square feet (418 square meters) of the home include not just a maze of hidden passageways, but also a fully functioning observatory, a moat and a swimming pool with artificial rain effects [source: Gunther]. Stay on your best behavior, or you might be relegated to the dungeon, where you’ll take up residence with the human skeleton, the human fetus, a few shrunken heads and dead animals [source: Pitts]. But if you’re scared of creepy toys, the upstairs room with automated marionettes won’t be any better.
Garriott once compared his house to a piece of interactive software, and a trip through the home does seem to involve the same skills as a computer game [source: Lewis]. To access one hidden passageway, the user must pass a magnetized piece of pottery in a certain pattern over the sensors hidden in a shelf to unlock a secret passageway.
Those who think they have what it takes to survive in this lair camp out every other year for the chance to obtain free tickets to Garriott’s four-night haunted house. Guests go on a quest throughout the house, encountering witches, bloody pools, flying demons and banshees, to name just a few features from years past [source: Gould]. It takes several hundred volunteers and tens of thousands of dollars to put on the event, but Garriott truly seems to enjoy it. In 1993, he bragged about getting three people to wet themselves from the shock of being showered with six-foot (1.8-meter) sparks from a Tesla coil [source: Lewis].
Richard Garriott is building a new home in Austin, so he may outdo Britannia Manor. But no matter what features he installs, it will be hard to top the storied history of the next home on our list. Turn the page to read about the college dorm with haunted hidden passageways.
6: Sessions House
As a residence hall on the campus of Smith College, in Northampton, Mass., Sessions House has probably seen its share of eccentric student behavior over the years. But even the wildest college parties pale in comparison to the illustrious history of the home.
The house was constructed by Captain Jonathan Hunt in 1710. To provide protection from the local Native Americans, Captain Hunt installed a secret passageway in the home as a family hiding spot. But Captain Hunt’s granddaughter Lucy used the passageway for a different purpose. When she fell in love with a Revolutionary War soldier, she arranged for their meetings to take place in the passageway. The family disapproved of the relationship, and though the soldier promised to return to marry the girl, he never did. It’s said that the lovelorn ghosts of this couple still wander the halls, looking for each other [source: Smith College].
Each year at Halloween, the new residents of Sessions House try to find the secret passageway. All the lights are turned off, and the students have 20 minutes to search for the meeting spot of the star-crossed lovers. One sinister clue that might lead the way is the sound of two previous students. It’s said that you can hear two girls who found the secret passageway one Halloween, only to fall through a hole on a staircase. The students allegedly either broke their necks or were so badly injured they couldn’t move, eventually dying of starvation [source: Belanger]. If this story is true, it seems more likely that the girls broke their necks; surely the hidden passageway wasn’t so hard to find that the other students wouldn’t have come to their classmates’ rescue when it was discovered the girls were missing.
While it’s possible that the hidden passageway was used to transport slaves on the Underground Railroad, some of the home’s other visitors haven’t been so lucky. Before the home was given to the college, legend has it that a woman with two young children was staying in the house. The mother thought she heard intruders, so she took an axe and searched the house. She mistook her children for the intruders, however, and killed them. When she realized what she’d done, she killed herself [source: Belanger].
No word on whether Sessions House features a hidden passageway to the Sessions Annex next door. For a few years in the 1970s, the annex housed male students studying at Smith through exchange programs. Certainly a few students at the all-female Smith would have appreciated such a feature.
5: The Octagon House
Homes with hidden passageways have a way of taking on new roles as times change, which was the case for the Octagon House in Fond du Lac, Wis. The home was built by trader Isaac Brown in 1856 at the site of an established settlement and trading post. Wisconsin and other westward migration destinations were increasingly attracting settlers looking for work in the mining, lumber and dairy industries. As an early settler to the region, Brown was fearful he might be attacked by the Native Americans in the area, so he built the 12-room Octagon House as somewhat of a fort, complete with an “Indian Lookout” room, where Brown could keep watch. If Native Americans attacked, the family would need a place to hide, so Brown’s design included nine secret passageways and a hidden room adjacent to the Indian Lookout room.
Brown gave the home to his son, Edwin, as a wedding gift upon Edwin’s engagement to his fiancé, Ruth Pier. Not long after that, in the years leading up to the Civil War, the house took on a completely different role. At that time, the Underground Railroad began to help slaves reach freedom, and Wisconsin became a significant stop for slaves on that journey. The Octagon House, with its nine secret passageways and secret room, was one home in the area that hosted numerous runaway slaves who passed through.
During a renovation in 1975, the new owner of the Octagon House found another hidden passageway — a secret underground tunnel that is thought to have been dug specifically for facilitating the slaves. Today, you can visit that same tunnel and even see a message scrawled by a slave on the wall inside the secret room.
4: The Gillette Castle
The 24-room Gillette Castle was built high on a cliff above the Connecticut River in 1913 by William Gillette, a successful stage actor renowned for his role as Sherlock Holmes. The East Haddam mansion, which has been described as “ugly, excessive and weird” and “designed to resemble a ruined European castle,” is made of fieldstone blocks, which were hauled up the mountain by tramway, and was modeled after the medieval castles of Germany’s Rhineland [sources: Monagan, Old House Journal].
You might say the actor and playwright designed his eccentric home to operate somewhat like the stage. For example, Gillette installed mirrors above the windows in the living room and in his bedroom so he could monitor his guests as they filed into his house and time his grand entrance down the carpeted staircase perfectly. Likewise, the house also enabled him to make a timely exit. In his private study, he installed a trick door through which he could escape to his workshop if an unwanted guest burst onto the scene.
Gillette liked to spy on his guests, which was done via a hidden staircase and hidden room, as well as through his mirror system. He also liked to wow them with the home’s quirky features. These were Prohibition times, so Gillette designed his bar to lock and disappear in an instant, and it could only be reopened by pushing a secret lever in the back. At parties, Gillette enjoyed using his mirror system to watch his guests return to the bar for a refill, only to fumble around aimlessly for the lever.
The eccentricities didn’t end there. In his dining room, the table was on a track. Guests sat on a bench along the wall, and the table would roll toward them and lock into place. When Gillette wanted dinner service, he’d push a floorboard with his foot to ring for assistance. Throughout the home, cat-sized openings were built into the walls, so felines could easily navigate the quarters, and outside the castle, a full-scale train cruised the 125-acre estate [source: Vorhees et al].
In Gillette’s will, he stipulated that he didn’t want the property to be sold to “some blithering saphead who has no conception of where he is.” He died in 1937 at the age of 83, and in 1943, the state purchased the land for $30,000 to turn it into a state park [source: Monagan]. In 2002, the quirky castle was renovated for about $5.9 million and opened to the public [source: Old House Interiors].
3: Körner’s Folly
Known as “The Strangest House in the World,” Körner’s Folly in Kernersville, N.C., takes eccentric home designs to a new level — that is, lots of new levels. The home, built as a showcase of the talents of interior designer Jule Körner, has 22 rooms on seven levels and three floors. The 15 fireplaces are each completely different, as are all the doors. Room heights vary from about 6 feet (1.8 meters), befitting a child, to a grand 25 feet (7.62 meters) in some adult gathering spaces [source: Salisbury Post].
It’s said that someone, either a cousin or a neighbor, declared the house would surely be “Körner’s folly,” which so delighted Körner that he had the name set in tile and used it as a name plaque outside the house. Körner began building Körner’s Folly when he was a bachelor, and it was never intended to be a permanent home. But that changed after he got married.
In terms of secret rooms and passageways, Körner’s Folly has those, too, but their purposes were more practical or whimsical than secretive. The home’s many narrow passageways, some as narrow as 2 feet (61 centimeters), simply connect the rooms and floors. The underground passageway was built so that visitors could reach other buildings on the property without getting wet or dirty during inclement weather. The trap doors which so fascinate visitors today were actually part of an elaborate air conditioning system that encouraged air flow throughout the house. Perhaps not quite as practical are the fascinating nooks, crannies and cubbyholes, some of which are covered by curtains. Körner and his wife hosted numerous parties, and Körner built in these hideaway spots so that his guests could sneak away from the crowd and steal private kisses!
2: The Coffin House
You’d think with a name like the Coffin House, this residence would be frightening. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In the pre-Civil War years, Levi and Catharine Coffin weren’t happy in North Carolina because the married Quaker couple abhorred slavery. They decided to move to Newport, Ind., (now called Fountain City) to be near others who shared their values. They opened a general store and planned to build a new home, but not just any home — the new home was designed specifically to be a safe house for slaves seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad.
Indiana was a free state, but it was a federal crime to hide runaway slaves. The house, therefore, had to have secret spaces where the slaves could hide until those seeking them had come and gone. A room in the back of the house had five different doors, so if any slaves had to exit quickly, there were plenty of routes.
The house had several secret areas, too, most notably a tiny and cramped cubbyhole off a bedroom where slaves stayed for as long as two weeks, hiding from harm and resting before embarking on the rest of their journeys. One of the slaves who hid inside the small cubbyhole was named Eliza, and the account of her experience was included in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s cabin.”
The Coffins are said to have hidden more than 2,000 escaped slaves during their time in Fountain City, and every one of the slaves the Coffins assisted eventually reached freedom [source: Indiana Insider Blog]. For his accomplishments, Levi Coffin was nicknamed the “President of the Underground Railroad.”
1: Winchester Mystery House
Few homes are as eccentrically designed as the Winchester mansion in San Jose, Calif. The reasons behind the design are eccentric as well. A 38-year-long project of Sarah Winchester, the Winchester Rifle heiress, the mansion finally contained a whopping 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 40 staircases and three elevators [source: Winchester Mystery House].
On the 160-acre estate, Winchester grew nuts and fruit, which she sold under her own label. She and her staff of eight gardeners tended the Victorian gardens that surround the mansion. In the garden were flora from all around the world and numerous statues, mostly from Europe.
On the outside, Winchester seemed an industrious, sensible woman. Inside the mansion, however, all may not have been so idyllic. You see, Winchester thought she was being haunted by victims of the Winchester repeating rifle. A medium once told her that the only way to get those pesky ghosts off her tail was to build a house that would confuse them. The result was a house that had rooms with several exits, more than 450 doorways, stairs that led to nowhere, secret passageways, and twists and turns unlike any other eccentric home on this list.
After her death, The American Weekly reported this in 1928 [source: Winchester Mystery House]:
“When Mrs. Winchester set out for her Séance Room, it might well have discouraged the ghost of the Indian or even of a bloodhound, to follow her. After traversing an interminable labyrinth of rooms and hallways, suddenly she would push a button, a panel would fly back and she would step quickly from one apartment into another, and unless the pursuing ghost was watchful and quick, he would lose her. Then she opened a window in that apartment and climbed out, not into the open air, but onto the top of a flight of steps that took her down one story only to meet another flight that brought her right back up to the same level again, all inside the house. This was supposed to be very discomforting to evil spirits, who are said to be naturally suspicious of traps.”
Lots More Information
- Could I install a hidden passageway in my house?
- Why does the Winchester Mystery House have stairs leading nowhere?
- How the Bioscleave House Works
- Top Ten Most Expensive Houses in the World
- How Ghosts Work
- How MMORPGs Work
- Curiosity Project: 10 Crimes of the Century
- The Ultimate Hidden Passageway Quiz
- Top 10 Hotels That Will Scare the Daylights Out of You
- Top 5 Ghost Tours
- Top 5 Real-life Haunted Houses
- Belanger, Jeff ed. “The Encyclopedia of Haunted Places: Ghostly Locales from Around the World.” Chartwell Books. 2008.
- Brenoff, Ann. “Hot Property: The Wolf’s Lair Castle is listed for $7.5 million.” Los Angeles Times. June 10, 2008. (June 30, 2008) http://www.latimes.com/classified/realestate/hotprop/la-rew-hotpropmatenopoulos10- 2008jun10,0,1922364.story
- “Brief History.” Singer Castle. (June 30, 2008) http://www.singercastle.com/seiten/a_brief.html
- Brown, Patricia Leigh. “Built-In Fantasy: An Aspen Howdunit.” The New York Times. Oct. 3, 1996. (June 30, 2008) http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.htmlres=9506E4DC173FF930A35753C1A960958 260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1
- “Chapter 2: Area History and Contributions.” The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. (Jan. 12, 2012) http://heritageparkway.org/planning/feasibility-study/chapter-2-area-history-contributions/
- Gould, Jim. “Britannia Manor ’94 — Descent Into Darkness.” (July 7, 2008) http://www.io.com/~jgould/bmanor/
- Gunther, Marc. “The Newest Addiction.” Fortune. Aug. 2, 1999. (June 30, 2008) http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1999/08/02/263639/index.htm
- “Historic Octagon House.” TravelWisconsin.com. (Jan. 12, 2012) http://www.travelwisconsin.com/item_detail/Historic_Octagon_House.aspx
- “Historic Octagon House.” Wisconsin.com. (Jan. 12, 2012) http://fonddulac.wisconsin.com/attraction_details.html?detailsListingId=ATTRACTIONS_0056f22435b0dc823617ad726e2b5078
- “Körner’s Folly 125th Celebration – 2005.” The Salisbury Post. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.kornersfolly.org/salisburypost.htm
- Lane, Stephanie J. “Franklin Castle.” Dead Ohio. (June 30, 2008) http://www.deadohio.com/franklincastle.htm
- “Levi Coffin House played a significant role in Underground Railroad.” Indiana Insider. (Dec. 23, 2011) http://www.in.gov/visitindiana/blog/index.php/2009/09/26/levi-coffin-house-played-a-significant-role-in-underground-railroad
- Lewis, Peter H. “Real Scares in Real Time, Courtesy of Lord British. ” New York Times. Oct. 31, 1993. (June 30, 2008) http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE7D8123AF932A05753C1A965958260
- Marlenesheirlooms.com. “The Historic 1856 Octagon House.” (Jan. 12, 2012) http://www.marlenesheirlooms.com/octagon.html
- McCarron, Jordon. “Quick Lesson in 19th Century Castle Exploration.” The Syracuse Post-Standard. Oct. 13, 2002. (June 30, 2008) http://www.singercastle.com/seiten/a_press1.html
- “Museums and Historical Sites.” Fond du Lac County Wisconsin. (Jan. 12, 2012) http://www.fdlco.wi.gov/Index.aspx?page=662
- Pavlik, Alan M. “French Hollywood.” Just Above Sunset. Jan. 30, 2005. (June 30, 2008) http://www.justabovesunset.com/id586.html
- Pitts, Russ. “AGDC 2007: Inside Garriott’s Playground.” The Escapist. Sept. 6, 2007. (June 30, 2008) http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/op-ed/1469-AGDC-2007-Inside- Garriott-s-Playground
- “Richard Garriott’s Ultimate Crib.” MTV. (June 30, 2008) http://www. mtv.com/overdrive/?id=1564231&vid=161267
- “Sessions House.” Smith College: Living at Smith. (June 30, 2008) http://www.smith.edu/sao/reslife/houses/sessions.php
- Summers-Sparks, Matthew. “Eight Rooms, Well, Nine, but That’s Their Secret.” New York Times. Oct. 5, 2006. (June 30, 2008) http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/05/garden/05hidden.html?_r=1&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/H/Homeowner%20Resources/Home%20Safety&oref=slogin
- Surhone, Lambert M.; Miriam T. Templedon; Marseken, Susan F. “Octagon House (Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin).” VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller AG & Co. Kg. 2010. http://books.google.com/books/about/Octagon_House_Fond_Du_Lac_Wisconsin.html?id=CzSwcQAACAAJ
- Taylor, Troy. “Franklin Castle: The Most Haunted House in Ohio!” Prairie Ghosts. 2003. (June 30, 2008) http://www.prairieghosts.com/oh-frank.html
- “The Historic Octagon House – Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.” Wisconsin Tourism. (Jan. 3, 2012) http://www.wisconsinbeautiful.com/central-wisconsin-tourism/the-historic-octagon-house-fond-du-lac-wisconsin. html
- Valhouli, Christina. “The World’s Most Expensive Hotel Rooms.” Forbes. March 7, 2002. (July 7, 2008) http://www.forbes.com/2002/03/07/0307feat.html
- Wadler, Joyce. “At Home With Moby in a Hollywood Hills Castle.” The New York Times. April 27, 2011. (Jan. 16, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/garden/28moby.html?_r=2
- Winchester Mystery House. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://winchestermysteryhouse.com/thehouse.cfm
Please copy/paste the following text to properly cite this HowStuffWorks.com article:
Molly Edmonds & Denise Harrison
“10 Eccentric Homes With Hidden Passageways”
14 July 2008.
26 June 2023
Secret doorway discovered under London’s House of Commons
Secret doorway discovered under UK Parliament
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A 17th-century door has just been discovered under London’s House of Commons.
On February 26, the UK Parliament announced the discovery of a previously-hidden entrance that had been built for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661.
The discovery was made as part of a long-term restoration project by the Parliament’s Architecture and Heritage Team.
British royals offer a look inside Buckingham Palace’s renovations, as the Queen’s home gets a faceliftcnn.com/_components/paragraph/instances/paragraph_0004E303-0D73-C45F-56AA-84C38E937B00@published” data-editable=”text” data-component-name=”paragraph”>
“We were trawling through 10,000 uncatalogued documents relating to the palace at the Historic England Archives in Swindon, when we found plans for the doorway in the cloister behind Westminster Hall,” said Liz Hallam Smith, a professor and historical consultant for the project, in a statement.
From there, the team was able to locate the hinges of two wooden doors measuring three and a half meters (eleven and a half feet) high each, with a small room between them.
Dendrochronology, a field of science that determines the ages of trees, was used to verify that the wood on the ceiling of the small passage was chopped down in 1659.
The passage was part of a longer pathway that would take people from the former location of the House of Lords into the hall where the king and queen sat.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, poses inside the newly-rediscovered doorframe.
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
The room’s existence wasn’t the only surprise. Inside, there was handwritten pencil “graffiti” left there by bricklayers who had helped to restore the building after fire damage in 1834. It somehow managed to survive despite the delicacy of graphite.
One of the messages, believed to be written in 1851, reads, “This room was enclosed by Tom Porter who was very fond of Ould Ale. ”
The House of Commons is part of the British government complex in the city of Westminster, along the banks of the Thames.
It and the House of Lords are both within the Houses of Parliament, the building perhaps best known to tourists for being the home of beloved clock Big Ben.
Number 10 Downing Street, home to the British Prime Minister, is just a few minutes’ walk away.
The coronation of Charles II, like that of other British monarchs, was held at Westminster Abbey. He reigned until his death in 1685 and was succeeded by his brother, James VII.
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“The mystery of the secret doorway is one we have enjoyed discovering – but the palace no doubt still has many more secrets to give up,” said Mark Collins, who is the Estates Historian for Parliament.
He added that he hopes it will soon be a feature of the building tours, which are taken by hundreds of thousands of travelers every year.
“We hope to share the story with visitors to the palace when the building is finally restored to its former glory, so it can be passed on down the generations and is never forgotten again. ”
How to determine the size of a doorway in a private house?
Building a house is not an easy task. There are many nuances to be aware of. In this article, we will talk in detail about the doorway: what stages it lives from the project stage to the final finishing stage, how to determine the size of the opening and the front door, and what are the features of installing a door to a private house.
- Doorway in house design
- Openings in various structures of private houses
- Frame house
- Brick house
- Timber house
- How big should the opening be?
- How to measure a doorway?
- In which direction should the door open?
- In or out
- Left or right
- Standard dimensions for front doors
- Dimensions of Snegir doors and openings for them
- Features of mounting doors in a private house
- Finishing the opening
Doorway in house design
In order for the subsequent installation of the door and its operation to be quick and easy, even at the design stage:
Decide on the design of the house – how and from what you will build it.
Decide where the door will be located. What size will the visor be? What size will the porch be?
Calculate the dimensions of the doorway and door leaf.
Find out which door you will need – non-standard or regular.
Choose where the front door will open: in or out, left or right.
Think about who and how will install the front door.
Decide how the opening will be trimmed.
Openings in various structures of private houses
At the planning stage, you need to answer the main question – how and from what you will build your house. This topic is important not only for laying the doorway, but for the entire construction as a whole.
A frame house is a building, which is based on a large hollow frame made of wood. It is filled with insulation. In modern frame housing construction, crossbars or headers are used to equip doorways.
Header is a powerful beam that acts as a jumper at the top of the opening. Needed to redirect the total voltage transmitted by the wall and roof.
Deadbolt has a simpler design, fewer additional elements. This element is located under the upper trim of the frame on the edge along the entire length of the wall.
Frame construction with header
Frame construction with crossbar
When erecting frame-type houses, vertical supports are installed with a standard step of up to 1 m. The average width of the doorway is 90 cm.
Frame buildings can have significant gaps in doorways. In such situations, they must be reduced. For this procedure, a regular board or plywood is suitable. It is installed on top of the doorway and on the sides of the structure. In this way, the necessary gap between the opening and the box is achieved – no more than 2 cm (ideally 10-15 mm).
Frames practically do not shrink, so doors can be installed in them immediately after the construction of the frame, before the external and internal thermal insulation of the walls is completed.
As in other structures, in a brick house it is easiest to lay an opening at the construction stage. So you can not be afraid that the wiring will be affected or communications will be broken.
The opening in a brick house begins to be mounted after two rows of masonry. These parameters can be adjusted depending on the height of the building. It is better if the opening is located closer to the center of the wall – this will evenly distribute the load on the structure.
Cutting a hole in brickwork? Do not forget to strengthen the wall with a special lintel made of wood or reinforced concrete.
A characteristic feature of a house made of timber is a long shrinkage. It can run for 3 years. The process is explained by the natural drying of wood and depends on the thickness of the wall and the moisture content of the timber.
Therefore, to install an entrance door to a log house, it is necessary to organize a casing structure – a wooden box installed in log and log houses around the entire inner perimeter of window and door openings. Such a reinforcing structure prevents distortions and strengthens the crowns of the frame in the places of openings.
During installation, it is necessary to ensure that the mounting foam does not connect the casing to the wall. Otherwise, the casing structure will not be able to lower along with the shrinkage of the house.
Doorway in a log house
How big should the opening be?
A properly designed doorway allows you to quickly and without complications mount the front door. Therefore, it is important to calculate its parameters in advance, taking into account the errors.
The size of the opening is affected by:
- Number of door leaves
- Their parameters
- Threshold height
- Box thickness
- Finishing materials.
If a doorway with a luxurious three-meter door is not your conscious decision to emphasize the design of the facade, opt for standard sizes. A non-standard opening will require subsequent refinement or ordering a non-standard front door, which means additional costs and waiting time.
Standard parameters of entrance doors:
- Width 900 to 1200 mm (single-leaf designs)
- Height from 2100 to 2350 mm.
Standard parameters of entrance doors
How to measure a doorway?
Before installing the front door, you need to correctly measure the opening. If you take the wrong calculations, you will have to finalize the opening.
Using a tape measure, measure the width and height of the opening at three different points, measure the depth of the opening. Take all dimensions, as the wall difference is often invisible visually, but subsequently the purchased door will not fit correctly into the doorway.
Take advantage of our detailed and understandable instructions.
And if you are afraid to make a mistake in measurements, entrust this matter to a professional. Given the material and features of the opening, the measurer will help you choose the right door size.
Opening height measurement
Opening width measurement
Opening thickness measurement
In which direction should the door open?
In or out
Before buying and installing a front door, it is important to decide which way it will open – inward or outward. Recall that the owners of private houses do not need to coordinate their decision with the Ministry of Emergency Situations or other bodies. Therefore, we propose to consider both options for opening and choose the most suitable one.
- Saves space in the hallway
- Easier to leave the house in case of fire
- Harder to kick.
- If the house is covered with snow, it is easier if the door opens inwards.
- Pay attention to the presence of other possible obstacles and inconveniences near the entrance to the house. If a small porch prevents the door from opening comfortably outward, then it is better to choose an inward opening.
For entrance groups with a vestibule, the following rule works: none of the doors should swing open into the vestibule. Let the outer one open to the street, and the inner one to the house.
Left or right
As for the left and right opening, it is better to build on the environment. The main thing is that the door, when opened, does not touch neighboring doors or other objects.
Left and right front door opening
Entrance door leaf dimensions
When measurements of the doorway are taken, the parameters of the door itself can be determined. As we wrote earlier, the dimensions of the opening should be 10-15 mm larger than the dimensions of the door leaf. This is necessary for the mounting gap between the door frame and the wall, which will be required to install and adjust the door unit.
Parameters of the doorway in relation to the door leaf
For ease of calculation, use the table.
|Door leaf size, mm||Door opening size, mm|
Dimensions of Snegir doors and openings for them
The theory is clear, but what about practice? Doors from the Snegir series are designed for installation on the street-house border. With the help of this table, you can easily choose the front door in the opening of the required size.
|Models of street entrance doors torex||Web width, mm||Web height, mm||Opening width, mm||Opening height, mm|
|Snegir 20||880; 950; 1000||2050; 2100||
|Snegir 45||880; 950; 1000||2050; 2100||
|Snegir 55||880; 950; 1000||2000; 2030; 2050; 2070; 2100; 2150; 2200||
|Snegir 60||880; 950; 1000||2000; 2050; 2100||
|Snegir cottage||880; 950; 1000||2050; 2070; 2100; 2200||
If your opening is not among these values, most likely you need a custom door. In Torex you can order the front door of the desired size according to your own sketch.
Features of mounting doors in a private house
Street doors take on the blow of bad weather: they must endure precipitation, not be afraid of the hot sun and frost. Therefore, it is especially important that the front door is installed as tightly as possible.
Warm installation of Torex doors
To do this, in private homes use the technology of “warm” installation. The gap between the box and the wall is carefully foamed, and for maximum sealing, the following are used:
- PSUL (pre-compressed sealing tape) . It is glued into the gap between the metal casing and the wall before installation. This is necessary to protect against blowing and precipitation around the perimeter of the door frame.
- EPDM (water proofing membrane) . Fits on the floor of the front door opening under the box. Protects against moisture ingress through the mounting gap.
- Vapor barrier tape . Mounted around the perimeter of the doorway from the side of the room. It protects against moisture ingress through the mounting gap.
Finishing the opening
The house is built, the door is installed. The case for small – finishing the opening. Let’s analyze the three most popular ways to design slopes after repair.
- MDF panels. The method allows you to achieve an absolutely flat surface. Slopes made of MDF look noble, are durable, have a variety of coatings and high sound insulation rates.
- Decorative plaster. It looks beautiful, but it is quite difficult to plaster the opening for decorative purposes on your own – this is a laborious and dirty process that requires special care. Otherwise, you risk staining the new door and walls.
- Drywall. Moisture resistant and rather rigid. In addition, it copes well with the function of thermal insulation. Drywall is fixed on a metal crate or with glue. This material is covered with putty, and then the surface is treated with sandpaper. After that, any coating can be applied to it, often water-based paint is used for this.
Ready! All work related to the doorway is completed.
- Consider in advance which door you need – number of leaves, opening side and size.
- Different designs of houses have certain features that should be considered during the construction of the doorway and the installation of the door.
- Before installing the front door, it is necessary to measure the opening correctly. The dimensions of the opening should be 10-15 mm on one side larger than the door leaf.
- A special “warm” installation is required for the street door.
Which door openings are there? – read the blog of the entrance door manufacturer Medver
Repair is a laborious and responsible process. You can get a high-quality result by acting according to a certain algorithm. So after the completion of all construction and finishing work in the house, interior doors are usually installed. This is one of the most important components of the interior, therefore, the comfort of their functioning and the overall design of the room will depend on how well the doors are installed.
What determines the size of the doorway
Each type and size of door requires its own opening. Let’s figure out what doorways are, but first, let’s determine what they depend on. The dimensions of the doorway will be closely related to:
- box thickness;
- frame and door leaf material;
- dimensions of the door structure.
Therefore, depending on the room in which the door is installed, it can be wide, standard and narrow, as well as high or low. So in large rooms, such as a dining room, living room, hall, large, wide doors are installed. In the bedroom, nursery or study, the doorway may be somewhat narrower and lower. Narrow doors are in office and utility rooms.
Doorway selection functionality
Depending on the function performed by the room, various doors are installed in it:
- glazed or blind;
- with sliding system;
- with pendulum mechanism;
- with cassette system.
Almost every type of door requires a specific doorway. In old houses, usually door frames and openings were made according to standard sizes. The desire to create an unusual interior in the house leads to the fact that not only the doorways are transferred, but also their sizes change.
However, experts advise: in order not to create difficulties for yourself in the future when choosing interior doors, it is better to use openings of standard sizes. And the installation of unusually wide or tall structures will take a lot of time and effort.
Dimensions of standard interior openings
Manufacturers offer customers a huge number of different variations defined by GOST standards. Most of them have specific dimensions:
- with a width of 550 mm, a height of 1900 mm;
- is 2000 mm high and the corresponding door width can be 600, 700 or 800 mm.
In addition, not only the width and height of the door frame varies, but also its thickness. Since in multi-storey buildings the dimensions of the partitions are 7.5 cm, it is this thickness that is considered to be standard, but it can be more than this value, and even less than it.
What is the most common doorway? Houses of different times of construction have their own doorways, and their sizes can be considered the most common. Therefore, they are in the greatest demand and are taken into account by manufacturers in the manufacture of doors.
To date, the most popular are doors with the following parameters:
- width: 600, 700, 800, 900, 1100 and 1200 mm;
- height: 1900, 2000, 2100 and 2200 mm.
There are standards for arched doors. There are also completely non-standard examples, however, such designs are made to order.
Thus, the doorway and the door itself are closely related to each other. What is the standard door opening in the room, the door itself will be of this size. If we neglect the established dimensions, then a situation may arise when the door frame does not fit in the opening or, conversely, the doorway will be too large for the door.
Calculation of the dimensions of the doorway
In order to correctly determine what size of the opening for the door is needed, you should know several parameters:
- opening width and height;
- door frame dimensions;
- presence and dimensions of threshold;
- the width of the architraves.
The doorway is the gap between the walls in which the door block is installed. The height for the opening is 2100 and 2400 mm. Single-leaf structures are usually installed in an opening with a width of 700 to 1200 mm; double-leaf models are placed in wider openings. There are also half-floor openings in which doors of different widths are installed, having two wings.
How to calculate the opening under the door? It should be remembered that the dimensions of the door frame are 3-4 cm smaller than the dimensions of the doorway. The gap is set in such a way that during installation it is possible to adjust the fastening of the structure.
For example, the size of the door leaf to be installed in the room is 2000×800 mm, and the frame thickness is 25 mm. To calculate the dimensions of the opening, you can add the thickness of the box to the width of the door, and do this 2 times, since it is placed on both sides. In addition, when calculating, it is necessary to take into account the mounting gaps, which are 15-20 mm on each side. The formula for an approximate calculation of the size of the doorway will look like this: 800 + 25 + 25 + 20 + 20 \u003d 890 mm. If there are no thresholds in the room, then the opening in height will be: 2000 + 15 = 2015 mm.
After the door is fixed and adjusted, the remaining empty space is filled with heat and sound insulating materials and foamed with mounting foam.
Entrance door selection
Entrance and interior doors have a completely different box design and dimensions. When choosing a metal door, it comes with a one-piece box that does not require assembly, and a threshold. Therefore, in order to determine which opening of the front door, it is necessary to carry out several other calculations.
For the front door, the opening must be increased by 8-10 cm in height and width. For metal doors of a standard type, it is customary to consider the following dimensions: height 2050 mm and width 960 or 860 mm. Adding to these dimensions the size of the mounting gap, for a door with a width of 860 mm we will have a doorway of the following dimensions: 900-920 mm wide and 2090-2100 mm high.
However, for correct measurements, it is best to call a measurer.