Speke Hall is a National Trust property on the outskirts of Liverpool. You could say it’s an old Tudor dame of a house dressed up like a young Victorian whippersnapper.
The hall itself is a wood-framed wattle-and-daub manor house dating from the 1530s. There’s even a priest hole. So far, so Tudor.
However, after 400 years of a rather turbulent history including riches made on the back of the slave trade, the house fell into decay and was literally falling down. At one point it was used as perhaps the world’s grandest cowshed until it was brought back to life in the Victorian times.
The Victorian fashions are everywhere, from the William Morris wallpaper to the Gothic Revival interiors, all hidden behind the unmistakeable black and white of the Tudor architecture.
The gardens and the wider estate are a lovely place to stroll around. The North and South Lawns and the Secret Garden offer more formal displays of flowers, topiary and rare tree collections. You can also enjoy far-reaching views from The Bund, footpaths through semi-ancient woodland and, further on, the Coastal Reserve path takes you to Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The children’s play areas are impressive, even for a National Trust property. There’s a hedge maze, a new zip wire, a gated play area for younger children, a hidden woodland challenge area full of stepping stones, wobbly bridges and other balance equipment, and a Giant Childe of Hale pram-friendly trail with super-size musical instruments to bash along the way.
As you’d expect from a National Trust property, there’s a decent café at Home Farm. There’s also a secondhand bookshop and a smaller tea room nearer the hall itself in the old stable block.
Accessibility is good with mobility parking, accessible toilets, a powered mobility vehicle and wheelchairs available.
The garden, park, restaurant and play area are open every day. Check their website for opening times for the hall.