As some of you may already know, I moved house about three months ago, closer to the English border and the cities of Chester and Liverpool. This has opened up a whole new world of stately homes and castles that were always too far for me to visit before!
|Speke Hall (front)|
Top of my 'wish' list was Speke Hall, just outside Liverpool and run by the National Trust. I've wanted to visit this house for a long time because of the beautiful Tudor facade. Although, as it turns out, appearances can be deceptive!
|Speke Hall (rear)|
My favourite room was the Oak Drawing Room. The ornate plaster ceiling dates from the 17th century, and shows flowers and grapevines - and the occasional snake! The carved panelling above the fireplace dates from around 1560 and shows Sir William Norris surrounded by his two wives and nineteen children! But by the 18th century the house had fallen into disrepair, the floor had been used as firewood and ivy was coming in through the walls and windows.
|The Oak Drawing Room|
The Norris family owned a house on this site since the early 14th century but the building of Speke Hall began in around 1530 for Sir William Norris. The family survived persecution as Catholics, and were on the losing side during the Civil War, but still managed to hold onto their estate until it was sold in 1795 to Richard Watt, who had made his money from sugar plantations in Jamaica.
|The Great Hall|
But the most fascinating character for me was the last person to own Speke Hall, Adelaide Watt, who inherited the estate at the age of eight, following the deaths of her parents. Brought up by her Great-Uncle in Scotland, he taught her all about estate management and when she came of age, she took over the estate and turned it into a profitable business. She sounds like an amazing lady!
Speke Hall, A Souvenir Guide by Richard Dean
Copyright: Louise Marley 2018