Rufford Old Hall, decorated with scenes from A Christmas Carol was the perfect afternoon outing for us recently. Son has just read aforementioned novel and is showing a keen (unexpected) interest in all things Dickens – this is pleasing, but anything that distracts him from Minecraft is welcome in our house.
Set in beautiful Lancashire countryside, the house is run by the National Trust. It closes in winter but they decorate the ground floor and open it throughout December. It is a glorious half-timbered building set off by the topiary squirrels . Squirrels seem to be a theme – we saw some flowerpot squirrels in training.
The Old Hall was the home of the Hesketh family and was built around 1530 with lots of additions right up until the 1800’s.
The Dickens theme was apparent right away plus all the staff were dressed in Victorian costume which heightened the atmosphere.
Son launched himself into a treasure trail around the gardens – hunt the Christmas pudding ornaments. They were strategically placed around the trees. Win win situation – a fun activity for him meant we could enjoy strolling around the grounds without any of the normal huffing and puffing.
We listened to the barrel organ, bypassed the queue for Santa’s Grotto and headed inside the house.
The Great Hall is the only part of the building that dates back to the 1500’s. It is truly splendid – decked out in its festive finery gave it something extra special. Son quickly located Tiny Tim’s dining table and Scrooge’s nightgown warming by the fire. We were wowed by the huge stone chimney, hammerbeam roof and arched doorway. Apparently they discovered a priest hole in the Great Hall in 1949.
Shakespeare was supposed to have appeared on the stage in the Great Hall before he was famous. They have an original free-standing wooden screen dating back to the 1500’s – maybe he got changed behind this? There is also a lot of weaponry and some suits of armour.
You are not allowed to take pictures in the “modern” part of the building, but it was all gorgeous. The dining room was set for a Christmas dinner, the study was turned into Scrooge’s office and in the parlour a lady dressed in a crinoline told children the story of A Christmas Carol.
We saw wonderful furniture, tapestries and paintings all topped off with gorgeous Christmas decorations.
We had a last stroll in the December twilight alongside the canal that runs by the house and through the gardens, admiring the building at dusk. Thankfully the resident ghosts – Queen Elizabeth I, a grey lady and a man who floats above the canal were not around that day.