Speke Hall Estate Local History Pages
Welcome to Speke Archive Online
This website contains archives from the Speke Hall Estate, Speke, Liverpool, Merseyside, England. Please feel free to browse the records on this site. They will be updated and added to when time allows, however, if you find anything that maybe of interest please mail me by clicking on the link below with your comments or questions. I would also be delighted to hear from anyone who has lived on the estate, has relatives who did or has any photographs/records of the estate
While there has been every effort made to be accurate there will by its nature be some mistakes or omissions in the information, if you find something your not sure of or can provide better information please contact me using the mail link below and don't forget to use the guest book
A Short History of the Speke Hall Estate
Before the Middle
Ages the only evidence of man at Speke is a bronze socketed axe found in an
allotment in 1946.
In the Doomsday survey of 1086 Spec (Speke) appears as one of several local properties held by the Saxon Thane Uctred, and is described as comprising “two carucates of land worth sixty-four pence”. A carucate was a measure of land that could support a family and measured between 60 and 120 acres according to the fertility of the soil.
Vivian Gernet was the earliest known master, his family ‘The ’Dacres’ retained the Lordship of Speke until 1334 though the actual tenure had been granted to Richard Molyneux in 1170. The Molyneux’s of Sefton continued to hold the manor of Speke but subdivided it between the lords of the Norris, Molyneux and Ernys families. Some uniting of the estate occurred in 1390 when Henry Le Norreys married Alice Erneys. Although the Molyneux family retained nominal overlordship, the Norris’s oversaw full manorial responsibilities from 1568.
boundary of Speke with Hale was settled in 1334 when Sir John de Molyneux, Aleyn
le Norreis and Richard Erneys, then lords of Speke agreed with Robert de
Ireland, then lords of Hale, that the line should be drawn as ‘… three
crosses, sikes and other bounds and marches commencing where the water of
Brokwallebroke goes into the merce (Mersey) and following that ditch to le
Crossefeld to the north’ . Addison, in 1781, names one of the boundary fields
between Speke and Hale as ‘Nearer Conleach’, and there are records that
there formal challenge fights used to take place between the inhabitants of
adjoining villages. For most of its length the Speke /Hale and Hale-wood
boundary may once have extended slightly further east than the one on the 1849
Ordnance Survey (1st edition 6”: 1 mile, sheets 114, 118) which
shows an almost parallel line of field boundaries about 100m in that direction.
The ‘crossfeld’ mentioned may be identifies with any of the four ‘cross’
fields shown near Hunts Cross by Addison.
Within the township
the demesne, that is the land intended for the particular support of the
manorial lord, occupied most of the coastal area. It was bounded by the river on
the south, ran parallel with a small stream to the east, and then followed the
line of Bailey’s lane to the north and the boundary between Speke and Garston
on the North West. In 1781 it covered just over 843 acres, a little over a third
of the total area of the township.
The Norris family had actually lived at Speke since 1300, in the original manor house above the Clough, on part of the site of the present hall. Part of the hall’s kitchen wing has indications of medieval building and its evident that a substantial hall and associated outbuildings were present during the medieval period from 1100.
The present hall is the result of many phases of building from the late 12th century when the great hall was built using local timber and sandstone from the township quarry. These stages culminated in Edward Norris’s Demesne in 1568 and construction of the north range and chapel in 1598, extending the south range and including priest holes.
After Edward’s death in 1606 the Norris family fortunes declined during King Williams’s succession and in 1650 the whole estate was sequestered by the commonwealth. Together with Allerton, Garston, Hale, Halewood, Little Woolton, Much Woolton, Thingwall and Wavertree, Speke formed part of the parish of Childwall throughout this period.
Thomas Norris regained the land and rights in 1660 and
eventually the estate passed by marriage to the Beauclerk’s in 1731, who
neglected the hall and estate until it was sold to Richard Watt in 1795. Richard
Watt was a merchant and slave trader who had made his fortune in Jamaica. The
Watt family restored and improved the hall and estate up to he death of Adelaide
Watt 1921, when the estate was left in the hands of trustees until 1942 when a
clause in Adelaide’s will left it to the National Trust. The estate was
administered by Liverpool County Museums until the National Trust assumed full
direct management in 1986.