Days Out in England: Marvel at Little Moreton Hall
“Little Moreton Hall has been an accident waiting to happen for over 400 years.”
Comforting words from Jane the National Trust guide, who was referring to the logic-defying, sagging roof of the building I’d walked through just moments before.
Around 60 tons of stone sit on top of the timbre-framed house, which has caused some parts of the building to compress and shift out of place. Despite the threat of toppling over at any minute, Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire is one of the finest examples of Tudor buildings in Britain.
The story of how Little Moreton Hall came to be the manor it is today is one of British showmanship. The original builders of the property, the Moreton family, were of moderate wealth – they certainly weren’t extremely poor, but they weren’t drowning in riches either.
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When they started to build Little Moreton Hall it was of a much humbler size, but sections were added as the years went on. Extra wings were built with the intention of attracting other families, hopefully families with a little money of their own and potential suitors for unmarried Moreton youngsters.
This was the Middle Ages – no one just popped by for a Bank Holiday weekend. People travelled for days to visit their acquaintances and stayed for a few weeks at least, so the Moretons knew they had to extend the property to accommodate long-term visitors. Forming these bonds between families was essential for future generations, so as much as possible was added within the family’s means to create a welcoming, comfortable home.
The addition of the long gallery (upon which a very large section of the foreboding stone roof teeters) was the icing on the cake for Little Moreton Hall. Still one of the most impressive parts of the manor today, this intricately-decorated room was used for recreation and socialising.
You can imagine women in pairs striding up and down the floorboards in this gallery, catching up on gossip and discussing the comings and goings of the house.
The experience of visiting Little Moreton Hall today throws you back to Tudor England. The National Trust has worked to preserve the building authentically, and even the tiniest of details are explained with depth and precision.
From scorch marks in wooden beams to the tiniest of shoes found in a child’s room, the bits and pieces that were found across the property before it was opened to the public were kept in-tact, and they are woven together to form as full a picture as we can create of life nearly 500 years ago. Free tours of the property are run every day Little Moreton Hall is open, lead by knowledgeable guides offering valuable insights into the manor’s history.
It was a Sunday on the day of my visit to Little Moreton Hall, and as I was leaving I heard choral music coming from the manor’s little chapel. A public service was being held, and a smiling priest was welcoming in a handful of attendees.
I strolled out of the manor’s gateway as I left, listening to the music. It helped me to imagine the people who lived here centuries ago: women with their long skirts brushing against the floors, the Moreton men briskly going about their duties, and all the visitors that have passed over the Hall’s threshold, hurrying themselves to evening prayer in the chapel.
There are a hundred stories like these, and more, at Little Moreton Hall.
What are your favourite days out in England?