Welcome to the first post of the Tudor Hall Archaeology series! Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing with you some of the incredible archaeology that a Tudor hall offers. For the past seven months I’ve been fortunate enough to work as a Museum Assistant at Bramall Hall in Stockport.
Bramall Hall is in many ways a unique Tudor residence, even amongst the limited number of Tudor properties still standing in the UK. The hall was built by the Davenport family in the late 14th century, who owned the estate for over 500 years. During this period, Bramall Hall grew from a single room structure to a sprawling mansion that encapsulates Tudor, Elizabethan and Victorian styles.
After the Davenport family left, the hall was owned by the Nevill family until the 1920’s, and the Davies family from 1925-1935. By necessity this is only a brief account of the hall’s history, otherwise I’d never get to the archaeology! Needless to say, I highly recommend visiting the hall as it’s open most days (you can find more information here).
The Wicket Door
To say Bramall Hall is a treasure trove is an understatement. Trying to choose the first object to focus on was rather challenging. In the end, I decided upon the Wicket Door because it’s eye-catching, it resides in the Great Hall (the oldest room in the hall) and it’s the first object a visitor sees upon entering.
You’re probably wondering “What exactly is a Wicket Door?”. Quite simply, a wicket door is a smaller door within a door. The Wicket Door at Bramall Hall dates to the 16th century, and served as a security gate that allowed someone to allow or prohibit entrance onto the property much more effectively. Look at the hinges and imagine how difficult it would be to break through!
The smaller door could be opened to check the identity of whoever was on the other side, whilst at the same time severely inhibiting any hostile action due to the size of the portal. This also forced people to enter single file, making it much easier to defend.
The Wicket Door was originally attached to a gatehouse that along with a wall, protected the back of the property. When the gatehouse and wall were demolished, the back of the house became the front and the Wicket Door was moved inside the hall to protect the newly designated back entrance. All the hinges and bolts were moved over too, and are completely original 16th century ironwork.
Well, that’s it from me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief foray into Tudor hall archaeology. Hopefully I’ll be back in the near future with another worthy object from Bramall Hall. Stay tuned!