Located a 20-minute drive down the A59, Rufford Old Hall is a National Trust property and a good afternoon out if you fancy some history and culture.Advertisement
It’s positioned between Preston and Liverpool, close to Ormskirk. It’s free entry for National Trust members but for those not in the club you can expect to cough up £6.20 each (adults, cheaper for children) to enter the house and gardens. A smaller fee is charged if you’re just wanting to see the gardens.
We went first into the Great Hall, built in 1530 and the only part of the Tudor building that survives. There wasn’t that much to look at but some handy information leaflets gave us some interesting facts and the spears and pikes on the wall caught my eye. A collection of folders on one table housed newspaper cuttings and historical papers about the building that were interesting to leaf through.
After the Great Hall we entered the rest of the house and wandered through the rooms, laid out in Victorian and Edwardian splendour. We marvelled at how small people were back then, the size of gloves, shoes and hats were tiny for adults. The drawing room provided a spy-hole that allowed you to look down onto the Great Hall – but it also made us realise how draughty the building would have been to live in.
The National Trust certainly aren’t short of volunteers, there was a person in each room just waiting for you to throw a question at them – although it was a bit unnerving as you just wanted to have a nose around yourself without someone’s gaze following you around the room.
We left the house and went for a wander around the gardens, in the blissfull Sunday afternoon sunshine they were great. I’d recommend bringing a picnic and lounging on the lawn, with the canal drifting past. The gardens are big enough for kids to run off and play in as well, while not being so large that parents can’t keep an eye on their children.
Mid-afternoon we popped back into the house, up to the Drawing Room to hear about the history of the Hesketh family who owned the place before passing it over to the National Trust. We were disappointed as the guide only spoke about family members who had portraits on the wall and it lasted barely five minutes – we were left knowing not a lot about the Hesketh’s apart from the men were very good at marrying into money and being elected as MPs for Preston.
Before leaving we paid a visit to the team rooms, and had a delicious slice of cake and pot of tea. Leaving via the gift shop – National Trust are very good at making sure you spend even more on a day out – it was a short but enjoyable visit to Rufford Old Hall.
Be warned it’s not the biggest place, so don’t expect to spend a day there but there’s enough to hold interest and I’d definitely recommend taking a picnic for a sunny day and enjoying the gardens and grounds.
View more information about Rufford Old Hall on the National Trust website, or on Wikipedia and view photos from Flickr tagged Rufford Old Hall.
Have you been to Rufford Old Hall? What did you think? What was your favourite bit? Let us know in the comments below.