I’ve been to Bramall Hall in Manchester last year and I loved it, even though it was a brief visit as we got there only one hour before closing time. I didn’t have my DSLR with me, so I went again this year, so I can have a better look and take pictures too.
There is a woodland walk and a beautiful park outside the house. On the lake there are many ducks and geese that are eager to have a snack and they did enjoy the bird food we’ve given them.
Bramall Hall is a Tudor Manor House, tracing back its origins to the Middle Ages. Before the Norman conquest, there were two houses in that area. The land would be given to Hamon de Masci, the first Baron of Dunham Massey, by William the Conqueror after he had subdued the north of England.
The house has a framework made with oak timbers. The timbers were joined together using mortise and tenon joints, held in place with pegs. Strips of wood and plaster would fill the spaces between the timbers.
The visit of the house starts in the Great Hall. It’s a lovely big room. Originally it would have been where everybody lived, eat, and sleep. The Davenports, as owners, would have a couple of private rooms. In the 16th century the Great Hall was rebuilt, so a new upper floor could be added.
That fireplace is huge. It had a small window and benches, so the family could gather around it if they wished to. This one was added in the 1880s, a design by George Armitage, inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement. Beside the iron fireplace, there are wonderful iron fittings like door plates, hinges, and handles created by Armitage.
This Wicket Door, the oldest feature of the room. The small door was practical for security reasons. The visitors would have to crouch down when entering and that made it impossible for them to draw the sword to attack. It’s not the first time I see this method of deterring the guests from attacking their hosts, but it’s fascinating every time.
Window panel in the Great Hall decorated with the family’s coat of arms.
The family chapel is quite big. There is an original stained glass from the 15th century.
This is the Solar; named from being solitary. It’s the most spectacular room in the house, due to its painted walls. It was used as a space for entertaining guests.
The walls were painted, most likely, in the 1538 for the wedding of William Davenport with Margaret Booth. It was a way to impress their guests. Because the wall paintings weren’t fashionable, they were covered up for 200 years, only to be discovered in 1883 during repairs.
These beautiful paintings survived because the plaster was applied on wooden laths, previous nailed across the walls.
All the four walls would have been painted in this imitation of tapestry. Now only two of those walls survive. To make it look like tapestry, there is an edge painted. Also, like tapestry, the paintings have moral messages. In this way, the Davenports would show their education and moral values.
A boar-hunter is flattened by boars, as a reminder that you should be honest in your dealings. Another image is not easily visible, to show that the devil is in the background, a medieval concept.
Not everybody would have been able to realize the meaning straight away. But that is a part its charm.
There are musical references in the paintings too, as you can see in the picture above. This is a courtly scene as a centre piece, so that means it’s quite important for them, to show their courtly aspirations. The lady’s clothes are beautiful and elegant. The man has an expensive fur and holds a lute. The long scroll shows a long piece of music. The fascinating thing is that, on the music scroll, it is real music.
On the bottom of the painting, there is a monkey playing a drum, a reference to loud, outdoor music, made by uneducated people. The moral message is that this is the kind of music you’d listen to if you don’t live well.
I think the paintings are amazing. A national treasure, especially as there is only one single place where something similar can be seen, that is the Palazzo Davanzati in Florence, Italy.
This carpet was made in the 1560s. It would have been used in the Great Hall. There is a short clip with the historian that helped restore the carpet. It’s very interesting to see.
This is a lock. There are two designs of locks. The decorations are stunning, with so many details.
The ceiling is gorgeous, constructed in the late 1500s, is inline with the Elizabethan fashion at that time. It shows the wealth of the Davenports.
The servants quarters. They look so small and dingy, but for most the conditions would have been better than at home, where they would have to share the room with the whole family, not only a roommate.
The address is Bramhall, Stockport, SK7 3NX. The paid car park is not very big and I imagine it can get a bit crowded in the summer days. The tickets are £5 for adults. More details on their website.