This post is about why you should visit Ordsall Hall – the oldest building in Salford, Greater Manchester.
Before I moved ‘up north’, I thought that Salford and Manchester were the same thing. Perhaps you do too? After all, they are very close together. They are served by the exact same buses and trams. You might not even notice when you pass out of one place into the other. But, be assured my dear expat, that Salford and Manchester are indeed separate cities, with their own rich histories.
As I’m learning, there are so many things to do in Salford and Manchester. I can’t wait to share with you some of my favourite spots. I hope each post whets your appetite and encourages you to move up north too, or at least to plan an extended visit. 😉
Salford’s oldest building
I took advantage of some gorgeous weather and paid a visit to Ordsall Hall, an English manor house with beautiful gardens and more than 800 years of history.
- Closest tram stop: Exchange Quay
- Entrance cost: Free
The main part of the house was built by the Radclyffe family. They presided over the land, their tenants and servants for more than 300 years before their blood line died out. Over time, the Radclyffe’s built outward from the main building. So, the atmosphere changes as you walk from area to area. It’s also clear which parts of their home had to be rebuilt due to historical fire damage. But, even this brick-to-wood demarcation adds to the character of the place. Ordsall Hall is a gorgeous piece of living history that we get to walk around in.
Book a guided tour
Under normal circumstances, visitors to the manor house could rock up unexpectedly, and wander the gardens and the rooms at their own leisure. However, since Ordsall Hall reopened following the Coronavirus lockdown, guests are expected to pre-book before getting to explore the house. This booking requirement won’t last forever, but whilst it does, all visitors are given a free guided tour of the building. This ‘stewarded show-round’ means that social distancing can be maintained throughout, bottles of hand gel can be used at strategic points during the tour. And, you get get to ask questions from a knowledgeable staff member.
My tour of Ordsall Hall was run by David, a friendly and knowledgable staff member. I was literally the only person on the tour that afternoon. So, I got to ask lots of questions, and David was discrete about stepping out of the way so I could take lots of photos too. You can see some of them below:
Ordsall Hall is open everyday except Fridays and Saturdays. I get the impression from their website that they host wedding parties and other private events on those days.
Whilst visitors may view the grounds and take a guided tour, it’s also worth checking the ‘What’s On’ section of Ordsall Hall’s website. There is a calendar of different events that take place at the site throughout the year.
During the tour, I noticed there is a lift in one part of the building. So, it does look like people with mobility issues can comfortably take part in activities in different parts of the building.
I saw an accessible toilet on the ground floor of the manor house, which is good news for people with disabilities – and even parents needing to do a quick nappy change.
There’s a pay-and-display car park on site, with a small number of spaces for disabled people who are also blue badge holders.
There’s a small cafe and shop downstairs, and again it looked to be accessible for people with mobility issues. But, the chances are that you won’t get to buy anything until the end of the tour, though. As soon as I arrived, I was whisked off to the first room of the tour – the building’s kitchen. So, if you need something to eat or drink, I’d advise turning up early.
If you can’t tell by now, I highly recommend visiting Ordsall Hall. It’s best on a sunny day so that you can get the most out of the gardens, and perhaps have a picnic on the grass. But, it’s also great value for all the family on a rainy day too, since the rooms are obviously indoors.
The only downside I noticed on the day? There’s a room where guests can sit and watch a 10 minute film about the past occupants of the manor house. There are also lots of artifacts to examine in the same room. But, I didn’t get a chance to look at any of the artifacts. Literally as soon as the film finished I was whisked away downstairs. I could tell there was another tour (of children) in the room behind me. I guess they didn’t want to hold up ‘the line’, so to speak. I thought that was a shame. But, that was literally the only time on the tour that I felt rushed in any way, and since the whole experience was free I think I’ll just have to visit again.