Speke Hall is a large Grade I-listed building that is a beautiful example of a Tudor-era wattle-and-daub manor house. A visit to Speke Hall is an interesting insight into life during the Reformation and its 19th-century restoration also provides a glimpse into life in the Victorian era.
The house is reputed to be haunted and it was featured in the Most Haunted television programme in 2009. It is said that the ghost of Mary Norris haunts the Tapestry Room.
What to see at Speke Hall
The house was built in the 16th century for the wealthy Norris family and was bought by the Watts family in 1795. It is a rare example of a half-timbered manor house built just prior to the Elizabethan era, however, it was restored in the 19th century and the interiors owe much to the Arts and Crafts aesthetic that was beginning to become fashionable at this time and some of the rooms still feature original William Morris wallpaper.
The Norris family were devout Catholic, which was dangerous during the reign of Henry VIII when this house was originally built. Because of this, there are several architectural features such as the priest’s hole where visiting priests could hide from the authorities. The house also has unique security features such as the eavesdropper, a small hole under the eaves that allows a servant to listen to the conversations of people waiting outside the main entrance.
The house is noted for its extensive gardens, which were designed in the 1850s, and the gardens provide a lovely escape from the city. The highlight of the gardens is the pair of yew trees known as Adam and Eve. These two trees were first documented in 1712 and are believed to be at least 500 years old.
The grounds of Speke Hall include the estate’s home farm, which is restored to depict a Victorian-era farm and the estate’s visitor centre (which includes the reception, gift shop and cafe) is located inside the home farm building. There is a maze just behind the cafe.
Speke Hall is a venue for a varied events programme that includes an outdoor cinema and outdoor theatre.
Visiting Speke Hall
Speke Hall is located on the banks of the River Mersey near Liverpool John Lennon Airport and it can be difficult to reach using public transport but it is worth the detour if you’re driving.
Although local buses stop on Speke Hall Avenue, the closest bus stop is a 15-minute walk from the house and almost a 20-minute walk from the Home Farm where the main entrance is located.
Free car parking is available and the location is handy if you have access to a car and are staying at one of the nearby airport hotels. The location near the airport is convenient if you’re looking for somewhere to visit for a few hours before dropping your rental car off before catching a flight.
The grounds are open every day but the house is usually open only Wednesday to Sunday. Guided tours of the estate operate 11am–12.30pm and visitors arriving after 12.30pm can visit at their own leisure without taking a tour.
The ground floor of the main building is wheelchair accessible but the upper floors are not, as they are only accessible via a staircase.
There is quite a bit to see here and many visitors spend between two and three hours at Speke Hall.