on October 14, 2012
We spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon at Croxteth Hall - a historical gem in the middle of quite a run-down, urban area of Liverpool. We weren't really sure what to expect before we went, but left captivated by the hall and the grounds.Croxteth Hall was once a huge country estate and home to the Earls of Sefton. The last Earl died in 1972 and Liverpool City Council took over the estate.The hall, gardens and farm are open daily until the end of October, when opening times are reduced during the winter months. We bought a combined ticket for the house, walled garden and farm which cost £7.50 for adults and £5.50 for children.You do not have to pay to park here, and if you don't want to visit the hall etc. it is free to walk in the grounds. There were plenty of people doing this, we were the only visitors in the hall and the farm, which was a bit of a shame. The hall is staffed by volunteers - some of most friendly, enthuastic and interesting people you will ever meet. They were dressed either as housemaids, butlers or footmen and took us on a guided tour around the hall. This really was history coming to life.We started our tour in the cellars - it was amazing to see the vast wine stocks they once had here. We carried on to the huge and impressive kitchens and heard all about the life of a servant here - scrubbing floors and working on the kitchens. Our guide was full of anecdotes and fascinating information which she delivered in an informal and very humourous way. She involved our 9 year old and intrigued him too. We heard all about the French chef who ran the kitchens here and some of the wonderful parties they catered for.Outside the kitchens, the lady showed us some of the brickwork of the hall. If you know how and where to look, you can sometimes see little handprints in the brick. These are the handprints of the young children who in Victorian times actually worked in the brickworks.Upstairs, the rooms in the hall are very grand and elegant. You can imagine the opulent lifestyle of Lord and Lady Sefton. We walked through the Earl's bedroom (where he died), the billiard room and his bathroom and compared that with the feminine touches in his wife's bedroom, living room and bathroom.Lots of society figures and members of the royal family visited this house. It was intriguing to see photos of the Earl and his wife with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, with whom, apparently, they were great friends.The rooms have been wonderfully preserved and are full of beautiful paintings and objects. Look out for the spectacular staircase - apparently inspiration for the staircase on board Titanic.After exploring the hall, we strolled around the Victorian walled garden. It is lovely and peaceful, full of interesting plants, shrubs and fruit trees. Everything is well labelled, so you know what you are looking at. They had heated "flue" walls, which we read about. We saw many greenhouses and a mushroom house.We went to the cafe for coffee, but I would say avoid it at all costs. It smelt of chips, the tables were not clean at all and the choice of food was extremely limited to say the least. The coffee was about the worst I have ever had.The farm, though is also worth a visit. They have lots of rare breeds here - chickens, pigs, cows, sheep and more. We stood next to the 2 huge shire horses and admired the cute baby piglets which had been born the previous evening. The lady who worked there was so friendly and informative.There is an adventure playgroud and extensive grounds for walking which surround the hall, but due to time constraints, we did not get to do any of this.We had the most wonderful afternoon here. The farm is under threat due to council cutbacks and is really struggling. Also the hall needs more people to come and support and visit it. If you are anywhere near, do visit this wonderful place. We found it educational but also a lot of fun and would definitely recommend it.
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