Moseley Old Hall
Moseley Old Hall, Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, WV10 7HY.
Occasionally you hit on the perfect tour guide and at Moseley it was Malcolm. Now I’m sure the others would have been just as interesting but Malcolm kept me enthralled in the house with stories of the escape of King Charles the Second (to be) after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and how many items of domestic use came into common parlance such as the Board being the reversible table in the hall where meals were eaten and deals were done and the Chairman being the head of the family who had the only chair, the others consigned to wooden settles or benches. The original house has had a more recent brick shell put around it which belies the interest within, but wait, its the topiary you’ve come to see!
The Parterre at Moseley, based on a pattern used by the Reverend Walter Stonehouse in Yorkshire in the 1640’s was planted by the National Trust and has now reached maturity and is well worth seeing. It consists of box hedging with box ball standards in strategic places and is best seen, as intended, from an upper window, although you will find this difficult on a busy day.
The front door leads to a road along which King Charles saw his dejected troops retreat along the road which was then a major highway north. In this small section domestic in scale are some box specimens which give it a charming character.
Right I have to come clean. The photographs on this page are all from my second visit about eight years later than my first. The guide was equally as good if marginally better. Sorry Malcolm. She regaled us with stories about “medicines” at the time and household items and some stories which kept the children amused but related to bodily functions. It is amazing how certain products and activities have been thought acceptable before the advances in today’s science and I often wonder if people in two hundred years time will look back and think that the life I have lived was very primitive.Anyway Moseley Old Hall gets you as close to living the Seventeenth Century experience as you can get right down to the herbs and vegetables growing in the garden and I heartily recommend it.
You can almost touch the suburbs of Wolverhampton and the M54 motorway from here but it is a world away and one to which I feel akin. Mind you you have to remember how cold it can get in the winter with no heating before you get too romantic.
To illustrate the difference between my two visits below is the approach to the front door, although visitors including King Charles used what is now the back door. At the moment (2104) the box trees by the front path have been replanted and there is a lovely lavender hedge lining the route. At the bottom the picture shows the original box hedging and box cones which serves a reminder that plants can die back or indeed die completely and have to be replaced. One of the joys of gardening is that it requires constant rejuvenation to be beautiful and this can act as a metaphor for life.
All photographs by Anthony Blagg