Expansions to the airport continued and its was moved to the new John Lennon Airport - just the other side of Speke Hall. On the estate circular walk you soon realise how close it is - as if you hadn't heard the planes by now! Makes a good place to go easyjet plane spotting!
The closeness of the airport and possible damage to the foundations from vibrations meant that at one time the removal of Speke Hall to a new location had been considered at one time ...who knows this may happpen in the future with further expansion of the airport. A landscaped bund on the boundary of the Airport / Speke Hall Estate was put in place to shield the Hall from the airport.
Its a lovely approach to Speke Hall down the long drive from the Lodge, especially in ths spring time with the colourful daffodils bordering the woodland scenery.
Its worth noting too that if you use public transport to get here and thus not parking the car then the gardens and estate are free to enter - just need to pay the difference to view the house - this costs £3, whereas to park the car in the grounds and visit the house costs £6.25 (2005 prices). The saving virtually paid for our bus pass for the day and in fact I'd use the bus in the future now the cross- river tunnel fees have increased yet again :-S
Speke Hall used to have a moat around its perimeter but the water has long since been removed. The guide pointed out a gardenerobe on this side of the house - this was a water closet toilet which emptied straight down into the moat below :-S
photography is not really allowed inside, so just a couple of sneaky shots...
The Hall dates from 1490 and the interior spans many periods from Tudor times to Victoriana. There are fine Jacobean plasterwork and carved furniture, a magnicient Grand Hall, A Victorian Kitchen and bathrooms and bedrooms to mention a few. Plus look out for the priest holes where they could suddenly go into hiding if required - a lookout hole in one of the bedrooms conveniently draws your gaze upto the lodge to check for any approaching visitors.
Adelaide Watt's restrictive clause for Speke Hall was limited in that it did not extend to all of the estate and sure enough part of this was sold off after her death and used for an aerodrome during the war - the beginnings of Speke Airport.
On the estate walk the old Speke airport is easily seen. It was one of the UK's oldest operational airports, first thought of as an idea in 1928 with scheduled flights commencing in 1930 and an 'official' opening ceremony some 3 years later on 1 July 1933.
The old terminal has recently been renovated and expanded to become the high quality Marriott Liverpool South Hotel, whilst the original hangars have been converted into a David Lloyd Tennis and Leisure centre.
Our Tudor guide pointed out this gable and its intricate decoration on the back of the house on the left hand side. This is original woodwork and probably the oldest remaining part of its architecture.
Part of the garden has this almost hidden stream garden - there are several nooks and crannies to explore in the gardens here. It was a bit murky looking to be honest and this pic probably makes it look better than it really is!
Its seems a shame that after all that restoration Richard Watt V and his bride both died before they reached 30 - no time to enjoy their home. Their young orphaned daughter , Adelaide Watt, became the last owner of Speke Hall, inherting the estate when she came of age. She remained a spinster and devoted her life to preserving Speke Hall and enhancing its estate. After her death in 1921 she leftt Speke to trustees of the original Norris family who had built the house - at first a magnaminous gesture!
However anticipating that the expansion of Liverpool might make the property less attractive as a domestic dwelling, she included a secondary clause bequeathing Speke Hall to the National Trust - which took effect in 1943, first leased to Liverpool Council and eventually in 1986 the National Trust took over direct management
For an extra quid on top of the house entrance fee a tudor guide will give a 30 minute tour around the exterior explaining the architecture and unusual features that can be seen - such as the eavesdropping feature (see further on). A young family were on the tour with us and the kids were doing tudor history at school and the homework project was to discuss the differing lifestyles of the rich and poor in tudor times, well she was really helpful to them.
In later years Speke Hall passed by marriage to the Beauclerk family in the eighteenth century when unfortunately it became neglected and close to dereliction. Then in I795 Speke Hall was sold, the only time in its 500-year history, and was acquired by a wealthy local merchant, Richard Watt. His great nephew, Richard Watt V began the necessary restoration and by the mid-nineteenth century was completed. It is this refurbishment of the 1850's that now provides the chief character of its victorian interiors, notably the oak parlour and the original william morris wallpaper coverings.
A visit to Speke Hall is a popular day out for all the family. This fine tudour half timbered house is one of the finest in Britain, stands in peaceful gardens and has woodland walks around which also takes in views of Liverpol's airport runway...so if there is a plane spotter in the family they'll be happy, although its mainly Easyjet and Ryaniar flights!
Its amazing in that just a short distance from an industrial area just a stone's throw from the John Lennon Liverpool airport stands this lodge leading to this amazing tudour house with its formal gardens.
It almost seems so out of place! The notice board by the lodge shows the times when the house and the grdens and estate are open - usually the house is just open in the afternoon.
Speke Hall was built by the Norris family in stages during the sixteenth century, reaching its present form in 1598, as seen by the date firmly recorded by Edward Norris over the main entrance, just under this window. (enlarge pic to see better). The Norris family was huge - 19 children if I remember. Inside one of the rooms is a plan of the family tree which was mesmerising to see.
As you enter the Hall to tour the interior first enter the shaded couurtyard before you begin to tour the period rooms. Head across to the far side by the door and look up to notice a hole in the eaves. ...this is where servants sat to hear what was going on ..and hence the phrase eavesdropper was born.