A Tudor house and estate…next to Liverpool Airport!

Speke Hall in Liverpool must be the prettiest Tudor house of all. But it has a dark history and is said to be haunted. The 15th century manor house is located within acres of lush land, filled with immaculate circular lawns and colourful foliage. It is hard to believe this place is in a city – even more unbelievable that it neighbours an industrial estate and Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport.

Planes can regularly be heard, and seen, roaring overhead.

But this evident clash with modern times does not take away the historic quality of the place, which is amazingly preserved.

The hedging is particularly impressive. The house is surrounded by a variety of hedges – from neat oval shapes to high walls of holly.

A charming rose garden can be found around the side of the house.

Nosing through one of the windows, I could see a corner filled with croquet equipment and coat hooks adorned with a deer’s antlers.

A tour of the house itself is really interesting.

Not only is it atmospheric and haunting, with lots of original furniture and other interiors, there are so many interesting stories to be told.

And plenty of National Trust volunteers were on hand to tell us about them.

One of the most interesting stories was how the house was used as a sanctuary for priests escaping persecution during the 16th century. The hiding hole where they would have hid can be seen.

In one of the rooms, which would have been used for entertainment, we were shown a 19th century barrel organ which had been made in Germany’s Black Forest. It was delicious looking, with cherry-coloured silk detail that brought Black Forest Gateau to mind.

Speke Hall is considered to be a rare example of a Tudor House which also features Victorian interiors and William Morris wallpaper.

On a more spooky note, the house is said to be haunted.

Reports of ghostly goings on include apparitions of priests and the sound of children crying during the night.

A popular ghost story, which I always heard as a child, tells of a woman called Mary Norris, a descendant of Speke Hall’s first owner William Norreys.

As the story goes, she threw her baby son to his death in a fit of rage over her husband’s gambling habits and then took her own life.

There have been reports in the Tapestry room, where this was believed to have happened, of a translucent figure of a woman walking through the walls.

Tour guides at Speke Hall have actually stopped telling this story because it scares the children. They also said that the story is not believed to be factual.

But it is the first thing people, especially those from Liverpool, seem to ask about. It was one of those stories that were told in schools. I guess it is Liverpool Folklore.