Rufford Old Hall, Nr Ormskirk, Lancashire
The ancestral home of the Hesketh family for over 600 years, this property was given to the National trust in 1936 and is home to one of the finest Sixteenth Century buildings in Lancashire, especially when you consider the Great Hall which is a late medieval style timber framed building. The rest of the house has been added to the hall over a great number of years.
Rufford Old Hall is located in the village of Rufford near to Ormskirk, which is near to Southport. If your using the M6 its about 10 miles from Junction 27, although I didn´t clock the actual mileage! Once you get close just follow the signs for Rufford and then the National Trust signs to the property.
There is ample parking at the site, however if there has been rain then the grass areas which are used for parking can get a bit muddy but where ever you park its only a short walk to the property itself. As the property is right next to the canal you may see a few canal barges cruising by if you lucky.
The house itself is split into what I would say are four areas. The first being the older part of the house, the second the new part of the house, the third the courtyard and restaurant and the forth are the gardens.
The older part of the house encompasses the great hall which in my view is the best part of the property. This is the oldest part of the house and is of timber framed construction with wattle and daub infill to produce the distinctive wood beams with white infill. More information on Wattle and Daub can be found here:
The inside of the hall is a wonderful sight, it is roughly 46 feet by 22 feet wide with an impressive hammer beamed roof with some of the most amazing carvings I have seen from this time period. If your going to visit ask the stewards about the religious carvings as they will need to point them out to you with a torch as they are very difficult to see due to the low light levels in the hall.
Also in the hall is the “Movable screen” although how it can be movable is beyond me as the carvings alone on top of the screen must weight about half a tonne and the screen itself is a good 12 inches thick! However the carving is superb although there are a few a deliberate mistakes, see if you can spot them.
The room also contains memorabilia of knights of old, including suits of armour and weaponry.
The second part of the house is substantially newer than the hall and is filled with some interesting furniture, pottery and pictures. There is quite a lot of Japanese pottery in the house, some of which my wife tells me is very old and extremely expensive as well as some fantastic maps of Olde Lancashire with Olde Lancashire names.
I´m not going to go into details about all the other rooms as there would be no point in going to see the hall yourself.
Outside of the property is the courtyard which is home to the entrance (which encompasses the shop), the restaurant, the toilets and a small exhibit of local tools and artefacts.
There are also the gardens which surround the property, which are not the best in the world but this is one property where the gardens aren´t the star of the show.
The restaurant was of normal National Trust property quality and the price for two main courses and drinks for two was £13.50. I had the Roast beef dinner and my wife had the ploughmans. The restaurant was busy from when we arrived at 12:30 until we left at 3pm but this might be down to the number of tables available.
I was wholly surprised today as I had my camera with me and I didn´t get the usual “Theres no photography allowed” from the staff, I´ve been to other properties with my camera slung over my shoulder and as soon as I walk in the door I get the “No cameras allowed” BS! The staff at the Rufford Old Hall where friendly and full of knowledge about the building and its history.
I really found Rufford Old Hall interesting and I will be visiting again.