I travel as much as possible at home (UK) and abroad. I'm always ready for new experiences!
Published June 7th 2012
Little Moreton Hall is a quirky, timber-framed Tudor manor located outside of Congleton in Cheshire. With its whimsical architecture and fragrant gardens, the National Trust has rightly described the house as looking like it was 'lifted straight out of a fairytale'. The Hall is about three hours driving distance from London and is perfect for a weekend escape from life in the city.
While some country halls give an impression of elegance and wealth (like Wollaton and Hardwick) or cold, feudal power (such as Tattershall Castle), Little Moreton has a very pleasant feel about it. The lambs in the surrounding pastures, storybook appearance of the hall, and watercolour artists dotted across the gardens create a peaceful atmosphere and beautiful rural scene.
The oldest area of the house was constructed in the Anglo-Saxon hall style by Richard de Moreton in the mid-fifteenth century. This large open space served as living, dining, and sleeping quarters for all the occupants of the manor, including their animals. A layer of straw would have covered the stone floor and provided some comfort for sleeping, except that it was rarely changed and thus attracted a host of mice, fleas, lice, and other infestations. As the idea of personal privacy grew in popularity, rooms were added on to the basic hall design until the manor assumed its current jumbled, asymmetric appearance.
A tour of the house is highly recommended. The guides are full of interesting stories and facts, such as explanations of the Tudor origins of many common phrases like 'above board', 'left on the shelf', and 'over the threshold'. The third story of the house is a long gallery, which was used for indoor walking and games. A team performing restoration work on the gallery actually found an early tennis ball lodged in the wall, so the gallery may have served as a rudimentary tennis court as well. The gallery also provides a beautiful view of the Cheshire countryside.
The large upper floor has contributed to the jumbled appearance of the house, as the lower floors are currently sagging under the weight of glass, beams, and heavy stone. You can experience this architectural predicament in the nursery room on the second floor, which tilts precariously downward and feels like it could buckle under at any moment. The room has survived in this condition for a long time, but still must have caused some amount of concern for the children who slept there each night.
Walking around the gardens and visiting the Little Tea Room are great ways to spend your time after touring the hall. Like the nearby Peak District, Cheshire is an area rich in natural beauty and the countryside around Moreton does not disappoint.