Bookish Discussions · Creative Pieces · national trust



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.

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Bookish Discussions · Literary Tours · national trust

A Visit to Speke Hall, Liverpool:


A little bit of a different post from me today, but one that’s fitting nonetheless. I recently visited Speke Hall in Liverpool, a National Trust property that once belonged to the Norris family over 400 years ago. Despite being a Tudor house, it has a Victorian personality due to the Watts family restoring the home in the late 1850s after a long period of abandonment. The Trust are displaying a new exhibition, ‘Romance and Revival: the Gothic at Speke Hall’, this spring. Every room, although steeped in Tudor history, has information about the literary rebirth of the Gothic. I just felt compelled to write a little something on it.

Speke Hall is a Tudor timber-framed manor house on the banks of the River Mersey. “It was built by the devout Catholic Norris Family, and has witnessed over 400 years of turbulent history. From the Tudor period when a secret priest hole was an essential feature, to years of neglect and decay in the 18th and 19th centuries, to it then being dragged into the Victorian era of improvement and technology”, the Hall has possibly seen it all. Whilst wandering around this house, with the accompanying woodlands and gardens, I felt history surround me. Every corner of the place was brimming with information about the two important families who resided here, whilst providing a detailed insight to the Gothic movement. It felt truly magical.

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