Secrets at Speke Hall

Speke Hall, wood-framed wattle and daub Tudor Manor

Families have secrets and the very wealthy Norris family who began building the beautiful Speke Hall Tudor Manor c1530 had more than many. The ‘riddles’ of Speke Hall connect to the practice of the Catholic faith banned under the rule of Henry V111 and later Elizabeth 1.

It was such a delight to explore this astonishing Tudor Manor, nearly 500 years old, another success and rescue story by the UK National Trust. (Near Liverpool) We were intrigued to discover that the term ‘eavesdropping’ originates from these times when a small open hole under the eaves of the house above the massive oak doors allowed a servant to listen in to conversation and guage whether friend or foe had arrived. Spotted! Who hasn’t eavesdropped as a child – own up?!

Harbouring Catholic priests was a treasonable offence and many notable Catholic families installed priest holes in their homes to offer protection from arrest – not much room to move about in the priest hole we were shown by one of the many enthusiastic and informative volunteers!

The preserved interior today is lavishly furnished with ornately carved Victorian furniture… Original William Morris wallpaper lines the walls of corridors and chambers.

‘Arty Take’? Whilst all the pretentious Victorian interior decoration was impressive, I loved the simplicity of the four leafed ‘quatrefoil(Meaning: an ornamental design of four lobes or leaves used in architectural tracery, resembling a flower or clover leaf, an ancient symbol (for good luck?) derived from Latin roots.)