Restoration of Bramall Hall, Cheshire

by Veronica

Long awaited, the multi million pound restoration of Bramall Hall, Cheshire saw its opening this weekend after nearly two years work. Was it worth the wait ? Walk with me and see.

Bramall Hall closed for renovation from 1 Oct 2014 until summer 2016. It received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the restoration has been meticulous to detail and sympathetic to Tudor and Victorian periods. Excellent improvements have been made to some of the rooms, architecture and structure of the building.

Bramall Hall is a Tudor manor in Bramhall, Stockport, and Cheshire. It is timber-framed and parts of the building date from the 14th century, with later additions from the 16th and 19th centuries. The house stands in 66 acres of parkland with lakes, woodland, and gardens.

Bramall was first described in the Domesday Book in 1086, when it was held by the de Massey family, supporters of William the Conqueror. From the late 14th century it passed to the Davenport family, who built the house, for about 500 years before selling the estate. The Hall and park were sold by a Freeholders Association to the Nevill family. In 1925 it was purchased by John Henry Davies, and then, in 1935, acquired by the local government authority for the area. It is now owned by Stockport Council.

Bramall hall Cheshire
Bramall hall Cheshire

Very little has been done to improve the hall but in recent years there was a decision to develop it, restore it to its former glory and make it more of a visitor attraction. It has been a lengthy and meticulous, costly venture and this weekend saw the opening. The park was packed all weekend and I managed to secure tickets to see inside the restored manor house. .

The restoration has been a magnificent achievement and I could find no fault in it all. The attention to detail everything from curtain fabrics and wooden furniture is nothing short of superb. The high lights for me were the kitchens and the remarkable preservation of some old wall paintings which were uncovered. These date back to circa 1530.

The Opening Weekend Activities

Archery
Archery

My latest Cheshire day out was yesterday.

The events over the weekend were largely linked into medieval activities. There was archery, a Tudor medic, a jester, shield making, a tanner and so much more. These were placed in medieval style tents around the grounds. Marvelously thought out.

Photos of the tents, camps and re-enactors appear below. The musicians were playing Tudor music and were dressed in Tudor costumes.

Tudor encampment by re-enactors

Tudor re-enactment
Tudor re-enactment
re-enacment
re-enacment

Jester and musicians

jester
jester
musicians
musicians

The House

chapel
a unique script on the wall
a unique script on the wall
dated around 1530

The Chapel was already available to visitors before the restoration of the hall but on the wall in the photo above is a very old script and handwriting style which was not seen before. It is thought to be the only place in England with this script on the wall.

How beautiful is that!

Below is a very old pew and the carving on the wood must have taken ages. Just think no fancy tools then, just pure craftsmanship.

an ancient pew
an ancient pew
hand carving on pew
hand carving on pew

The Bedrooms

A Tester Bed
A Tester Bed
Carved cot dated 1663
Carved cot dated 1663

The carved cot above was dated on it 1663. Beautiful. Many of the beds were "tester" beds, i.e. they had a top on them.

Wall paintings uncovered and preserved

1530 wall paintings
1530 wall paintings

This was my favourite thing. They have restored so much, leaded windows and also these wall paintings were uncovered. They are stunning and nearly 500 years old. The colours are beautiful.

wall paintings
wall paintings
wall paintings
wall paintings

The kitchens

cooking range
cooking range
pestle and mortar
pestle and mortar
large tubs
large tubs
kitchen scales !
kitchen scales !

The kitchens were HUGE with old Victorian ovens and lots of old kitchen equipment. My kitchen would fit into this one about 7 times. There was a separate cold food store, butler's pantry and laundry.

The laundry

I am glad we don't still use these for laundry
I am glad we don't still use these for laundry

Seeing the old laundry equipment was so interesting because it is so far removed from what we use now. The other kitchen equipment would be recognisable now e.g. the pestle and mortar, but the laundry equipment with its washboards, possers, dolly tubs and sticks is totally unlike what I would be using at home.

Imagine doing the laundry for a house this size with that equipment.

Servants' bells

Bells summoned the servants
Bells summoned the servants

These were the bells which summoned the servants from downstairs to the relevant rooms upstairs. These would have been a 18th / 19th C  addition.

Furniture

beautiful globe
beautiful globe
old chest
old chest

The furniture has been restored and chosen to fit in with each room. I especially liked the globe and there were several chests around the house like that above.

The billiard table and scoring board would have been later additions to the house not Tudor.

billiard table
billiard table
scoring board
scoring board

Original fabric of the builing

uncovered old wattle door panel
uncovered old wattle door panel

I loved this. Part of the original door has been stripped back so we could see the original withy frame and plaster. Where else would we see this, have a chance to experience this?

The future

This is a remarkable restoration and it is faultless in its attention to historical detail. I am not easily pleased when it comes to accuracy and usually find historical faults. But I can find NONE!

There are several events planned now and the hall is being used as a centre of the community again.

Special sessions are planned for August, Sept and Oct 2016 for families with Autism so they can access the hall. There are baby sensory sessions, art, magic, family sessions, a flower festival, Victorian cooking and more all taking place before the end of October. There is a website

www.stockport.gov.uk/bramallhall

If you are in England or visiting England, it would be worth making a detour to see this place.

Bramall Hall, Bramhall, Stockport, Cheshire.

Do please visit. You won't be disappointed.

The back of Bramall hall
The back of Bramall hall
Updated: 08/01/2016, Veronica
 
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Veronica on 08/05/2016

Colchester's 11th C castle was built on a site of a Roman temple using Roman bricks and stones .... a Norman castle made out of Roman ruins. It's an amazing thing if you ever get a chance to visit.

I love History and getting round all these wonderful places . I am just off to Essex so expect some posts as a follow up.

Veronica on 08/05/2016

Quite true and exactly so. Quite often the wooden structures burnt down and were rebuilt on the same site.

At the front is the remnants of a moat now filled in which suggests a previous structure.

frankbeswick on 08/05/2016

Rebuilding on a site was so common it was the norm. As domestic building techniques improved as the Middle Ages progressed well of people decided to upgrade their old family dwellings. Somewhere in Eastern England, I am unsure where, archaeologists discovered the remains of a mediaeval farmhouse, then below them a Saxon timber hall,but below that a roman villa. All were on roughly the same site and the building was renewed as and when it became old.

blackspanielgallery on 08/05/2016

Apparently, if it dates from the 14th century, being included in the Doomsday Book refers to an earlier structure that was lost years ago. It is not uncommon to build on an old site when the original building is no longer salvageable.

Veronica on 08/02/2016

It has been done sympathetically to the ages of the house that's for sure.

jptanabe on 08/02/2016

How lovely that they did such a good restoration job. Certainly makes it an attraction.

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