Friday 30 September 2016

Wonky Tudor

Yesterday I saw that we weren't far from the National Trust property of Little Moreton Hall, and that it was possible to get there by bus. So that's what we decided to do today, rather than continue up the Cheshire locks. At 9.30 we were waiting at the indicated bus-stop, only to see the bus come down a side-road 50 yards away and head off in the opposite direction. Three minutes later a different number bus stopped where we were, and a discussion with the driver and the only two passengers indicated that this one would take us to a point where we could catch the other, which goes all round the houses to get anywhere.

Tony got off at the same place and showed us where to wait. Thanks, Tony – very helpful. 20 minutes later we caught the bus we thought we'd missed, and were dropped off by the Hall. This place has to be seen to be believed.

It was built on a stone slab foundation, and the slabs steadily settled into the positions they have today. This, combined with the effect of the green oak used in the construction drying out, has led to the mixture of angles that has left engineers amazed that it's still standing.

We were fortunate to find Julie leading a 40 minute tour, just as we finished our coffee.

She was an excellent communicator and we learnt many things, including the story of the unexpected discovery of some Tudor wall painting previously covered up by panelling.

There were examples of red and green designs (no stencils allowed!),

and, across the top of the wall, several panels depicting the story of Susannah and the elders.

The Moreton family had apparently done very well out of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, and had a fair amount of wealth to spend on windows,

state-of-the-art toilet facilities (a straight drop into the moat where the fish were farmed),

and upper storeys.

The NT had commissioned an exhibition by a local artist, which consisted mostly of sets of translucent, coloured panels, intended to reflect the original glass in the windows. My best beloved enjoyed it, but I wasn't really convinced. The building's artisans had created enough interest themselves.

There is a small family chapel,

and a delightful "knot" garden behind the house.

The fortunes of the family took a turn for the worse when they chose the Royalist side in the Civil War, in spite of living in a largely Parliamentarian area. They continued to own the house, but had to let it out to tenants, and there was neither finance nor opportunity for further development. However, that is precisely why it remains today as a fine example of Tudor architecture. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.


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