Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Britannia Manor is the residence of game designer Richard Garriott. The name comes from the castle of Lord British, ruler of Britannia, the setting of the Ultima computer role playing game series, which he created. Britannia Manor is situated atop a mountain near Austin, Texas.
Before 1997, Britannia Manor was famous for hosting the most elaborate haunted house in the country. Garriott spent a great deal of money annually around Halloween to hire actors with elaborate makeup for his haunted house. The haunted house events were designed like a roleplaying game. Participants would go through his mountain property in adventuring parties, gathering clues to solve mysteries and quests, while facing different perils and pitfalls. It was not uncommon for parties to lose members in the course of the quest.
The manor's medieval design reflects Garriott's interest in the era. The house is adorned with various medieval items such as crossbows, swords, and armour. It features traps and a network of secret passages and rooms. A secret room in the basement contains some of Garriott's most treasured artifacts, including dinosaur fossils, a coffin with a human skeleton inside it, and an authentic 16th century vampire hunting kit. The house also features other collections such as hairs from the Glacier snowman, a brick from the Great Wall of China, a Russian spacesuit, and three stained glass windows retrieved from an abandoned church.
The house also has an observatory in the main complex. Although part of the house, it is structurally independent from the rest of the house in order to damp out vibrations, as they ruin long-exposure space photos.
In 1996, Garriott hired an architect to design another house on the Britannia Manor property. The new structure would be significantly bigger than the original one and has additional features. The design has three different wings which surround a large swimming pool, which faces a cliff. The pool would have a glass boundary, so if one looked up from the foot of the mountain, it would seem the water is floating in the sky.
As in the manor, secret passages would link the entire complex. In the design, the passages connect all three wings of the house as well as allow secret access to the swimming pool. The passages would extend down through the mountain and under water to a lakeside dock.
Traps were also included in the design. The master bedroom would be on a giant elevating platform below a retractable ceiling. When activated, the ceiling would completely open up and the room would elevate to the top level of the house, essentially allowing the inhabitant to literally sleep under the stars. Some guest rooms are also located on a giant rotating platform. When the guests are asleep, the device could activate so that guests would wake up in a different room than they slept in the previous night.
The status for the new addition is unknown. Garriott put the plans on hold when he left his job at Origin Systems.
- Pictures of Britannia Manor (near bottom)
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