Visit Croxteth Hall & Park
Croxteth Hall is a beautiful patchwork of a stately home, set in Liverpool's Croxteth Country Park, having been built in 1575 in a Tudor style but with additions in the Georgian and Queen Anne architectural traditions. Straddling the two districts of Croxteth and West Derby, for centuries it was the estate of the Molyneux family - pronounced by them as 'mullinex' - who were Earls of Sefton but it passed to ownership of the council in 1980.
The hall and many of the buildings on the estate and within the park are Grade II listed buildings and are maintained in pristine period condition and open to the public, within limits. On a tour of the hall, it is always possible to see some rooms preserved as tableaux from the Edwardian era, complete with dummies dressed in clothes that once belonged to the Molyneux family and their servants. At other times, re-enactments of scenes from Croxteth Hall's history have taken place, featuring members of a local drama group or, occasionally, local schoolchildren.
A number of permanent attractions include the riding-stables, where a horse can be hired for a 'hack' around the grounds as well as being a centre for riding lessons. Near to the stables there is a charming tea-room that serves home-made cakes and pastries and a variety of simple meals. A large playground, including an enormous 'jungle-gym' is a popular draw for children of all ages and there are a large number of benches available so that parents can supervise the activities in comfort.
One of Croxteth Park's most popular features is the 'home farm', which houses a number of impressive animals including goats, pigs, rare cattle, shire horses and various poultry. The Victorian walled-garden is another popular feature of the park, drawing visitors during the summer months, when the displays are radiant. At the front of the hall, there is a gift shop that sells a good variety of mementoes, gifts, farm produce and confectionery at reasonable prices.
For the active visitor, there is a high wire, ropewalk attraction called Jungle Parc, where people can climb and enjoy the view from far above the ground in the safety of a harness. There are different levels of difficulty, so it is suitable for children of ten or eleven as long as they are at least 1.35 metres tall. As well as these and other permanent installations, there are special events regularly, such as guided tours of the park in the company of a ranger.
A tour that is well worth taking is the Victorian Lamplight Tour in which visitors are guided around the hall by lamplight only, meeting actors dressed as historical characters from the hall's past, who recount tales of their 'lives'. In a similarly mysterious vein, there are regular 'murder mystery' nights with a meal and a simulated murder for the guests to solve; this is organised by a highly skilled West Derby theatre company. For the children, a perennial favourite is the Father Christmas Grotto, which is set out in the farm; the price of admission includes a gift and entrance to the farm itself. Continuing the Christmas spirit, on two successive Sundays prior to Christmas there is a large craft fair and market in the hall, with handmade and personalised gifts, decorations and food. Fun for all ages.
As Croxteth is several miles from the city centre, it's advisable to rent a car. As long as you have arranged reliable car hire with Avis Liverpool has a lot to offer that may even surprise you. Once you've experienced Liverpool, you'll want to come back time and again.