Newest Review: ... park is free (the car park is a fair distance from the house though) and by themselves the gardens make a really nice day out - plenty o... more
This Ancient Hall 'Spekes' Volumes! Speke Hall. Liverpool.
Speke Hall Garden & Estate (Liverpool)
Member Name: GillMN
Speke Hall Garden & Estate (Liverpool)
Advantages: Interesting, beautiful, peaceful, Ours forever because of the National Trust.
Disadvantages: Some access limited for wheelchairs. Not open every day.
When I was a child our little school's day out was often to Speke Hall. It is a small oasis of preserved history on the outskirts of a very historic Liverpool. It is close to John Lennon airport and easily accesible from the M62.
It is a Tudor house, well preserved and well presented. As children we were warned not to wander off in case we got lost in the attic spaces or priests hole and were never seen again! I loved my visits there then and I still do!
Speke Hall is a beautiful half timbered manor house. The present building dates from between 1490-1612, but there was an earlier house there and the manor of Speke was mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
It is surrounded by pleasant gardens and a new orchard has been planted in the grounds to the left of the house on the site of the old orchards.
Visitors nowadays will find plenty of free parking. The car park is close to the toilets and cafe. There is a courtyard there with shady trees and picnic tables if you want to sit outside and eat. The ticket desk is there too and a lot of information about the National Trust and other NT properties in the area.
Don't miss looking at the old sandstone pig-sties and the outhouses and barns which have been renovated for use as display and information areas. I think there is a play area for children here too.
At present the prices are £8.00 for an adult. £4.00 for a child.
There are concessions and a cheaper price if you have walked or arrived by public transport!
The admission price for members of a group is around £6.00 but that has to be booked in advance.
The opening times have been extended this year but it is worth checking on their website to see if the Hall is open when you want to visit, as the opening times are seasonal. All the admission prices and a good deal of information about the Hall is listed there too!
There is quite a walk through the gardens from the car park but help is available if you are struggling. A little trolley thingy driven by a staff member can bring you to the Hall. The ground floor is wheelchair accessible but I seem to remember there were a few steps down into the dairy so anyone in a whellchair would have to go out and access the dairy from outside.
There is a lot to see in the hall, my favourite part is the great hall where Jacobean plaster carvings adorn the walls. There is also a life size painting of the Child Of Hale who was a 'giant' and a local celebrity. He came from the village of Hale nearby. Legend tells us he was 9 foot 3 inches tall and lived between 1578 -1623. The story goes that he was summoned to court to wrestle for the King but he was a religious and modest man so refused to strip down to his underwear to wrestle. He was sent home in disgrace for defying the King! As kids we used to love imagining what it was like to be that size! One time one of our teachers put a child on his shoulders to let him see what it felt like to be so tall!
Back to the Hall. There is a range of historical furnishings in different rooms and many are original to the Hall. When my Mum was a child in the next door village of Garston (not a village now!) the Hall had been allowed to become derelict and she used to go in and play there, she distinctly remembers the many servants bells on the wall near the dairy. They are still all there but bright and shining now! The Hall was refurbished and renovated fabulously by the Trust and local volunteers.
In the main courtyard stand two venerable oak trees named Adam and Eve if I remember correctly. It is intriguing to stand in the courtyard looking at the dozens of little leaded and mullioned windows all a bit askew with time, imagining the generations of masters and servants that have been reflected in them. The muffled sound of centuries of living here echo quietly.
The dairy/kitchen has been re-equipped with all the equipment that would have been used in there through the ages. It is fascinating to see the tools and dishes, pots and pans that the servants utilised to feed the household. It is a very accessible and educational place and brings the history of the house alive.
The Priest hole is fascinating too, there is access to the very small 'room' and hidden passages to the safe haven built into the Hall to shelter renegade priests. It is chilling to think that men hid in this very cramped 'hole', sweating in fear of discovery and execution. There is a worksheet for children featuring the 'Priest's Hole' and of course the children are fascinated. They also love the 'thunderbox' privy, an early inside toilet. I'll leave it to your imagination to work out why it got that name!
In one of the rooms there are some beautiful ancient carved wooden panels with the family 'pictures' on them. They must have been the 17th century equivalent of a photo! They are lovely to see and well worth the time taken to really study them and pick out the details.
Surrounding the Hall is a moat which is now dry and planted with beautiful shrubs and flowers. There is an old bridge built of local sandstone spanning the moat at the rear of the house, from here you can look down into the moat and see some of the prettily laid out gardens. The sloping sides of the moat are a great place to rest and eat your lunch on a nice day. All of the gardens are well maintained and seem to have been enlarged and improved every time I visit.
From the grounds of the Hall you can set off on a coastal walk, I have never done this but I imagine that the views over the Mersey estuary could be quite something!
There is a lot to see and do at Speke Hall and I am sure I will have missed some aspects out.
The best thing to do is go and see for yourself and find a little oasis of peace and history.
Summary: A great day out where you can't help but learn about your heritage.
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