On the outskirts of Lancashire sits Rufford Old Hall, a home of ‘romance, wealth and five-hundred years of family history’. I’ve been aching to visit here for the best part of a year now, and I’m finally within touching distance. The gravel crunches under my feet as I wander slowly up the pathway, taking in the natural beauty that surrounds me. The heavy, sweet scent of the blossoming rhododendrons wraps around me, blanketing me from the sweltering heat. It calms me as the white and black timber-framed hall comes into view. The wooden doors have endured for centuries but they are still willing to invite me in, desperate for me to amble along the Hall’s corridors and soak in its history.
Despite the wide windows, I am shrouded in darkness. The north hall is blocking the sunlight, and I carefully scrutinise the furniture. As I bend lower, the smell of old wood suddenly hits me, reassuring me of its authenticity. It knocks me back, and I turn to leave. I weave in and out of rooms, breathing in the Hall’s history. Dotted around each room sits rotting sofas and tables; they were once vibrant with colour but now have faded to a dull mess of grey, black and green. From the corner of my eye, I peep the Hesketh’s coat of arms. It sits proudly craved into the Great Hall’s wall, and has been since the mid-1500s. This was, undoubtedly, a hall built to impress. It’s said that the Bard himself visited here during his teens. I wonder what Shakespeare thought whilst wandering these very hallways? I am, you might say, following in his footsteps.