Days Out: Ordsall Hall, Salford

At a loose end last week I decided on a whim to take C on a trip to Ordsall Hall in Salford. It was a sunny day and time for lunch, and ‘the internet’ told me it had a nice cafe, so off we went.

This grade 1 listed tudor manor house sits somewhat unexpectedly surrounded by terraced houses and building sites, a short drive from both central Manchester and Salford Quays. It’s not huge, but has had a great amount of investment lately making it a stunning spot to visit when you don’t want to travel far from the city. Given how close it is to the city, I was slightly embarrassed that I’d never thought to go there before!
As promised, the cafe was small but neat, with inexpensive sandwiches, a nice range of drinks and some yummy looking cakes, which sadly I couldn’t indulge in thanks to C’s milk protein intolerance (darn it!).

The hall is allegedly haunted, but there was no sign of any paranormal activity. Which is just as well as I’m not a fan of ghostly tales! I was more interested in the fact that unlike many stately homes, Ordsall hall really felt like the kind of place you could imagine someone living in – really well preserved and laid out, and of course handy for the commute into town!

The house has a rich history, being associated (as with so many places around here!) with the birth of Manchester’s textiles industry – Sir John Radclyffe was apparently rewarded by the king for his services in battle in France by being allowed to being back skilled Flemish weavers to his estate at Ordsall, who then taught their skills to local weavers and set up a silk industry in the area, prior to the growth of the cotton industry in Manchester.

The house also has associations with Guy Fawkes, with the gunpowder plot allegedly being planned in the star chamber of the hall. So there’s plenty to engage kids with – in fact school groups are regular visitors to the hall, and there was a group there as we visited

C was supposed to be having a nap whilst we were there, but obviously she found everything too interesting to nod off… The house has been fitted with a lift in each of the two main sections which meant that even with her in her pram we could explore the upstairs. The only downside of this was that a staff member had to escort us to use the lift, so we didn’t get to explore quite as freely as we might have without feeling a little awkward being followed around. Next time I’ll pop her in a sling and carry her up the stairs!
Outside, the gorgeous formal garden and lawns look like a fab spot for a picnic and a run around for the kids. Although it was a beautifully sunny day when we visited, after having.say down to feed C on a bench I realised it was rather chilly despite this. Still, I had a lovely picture postcard view of the house to enjoy whilst shivering slightly (C, I should add, was snug as a big tucked up in her blanket!). I can imagine on a warmer day it would make a lovely picnic spot, as long as you sit facing the house and not the slightly incongruous urban surroundings!
One half of the upstairs houses a changing range of exhibitions, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the website to see what’s on. And more pertinently for us, the hall will be hosting Easter activities for kids during half term.

It’s free to get in, but you do pay a few quid for parking. Ordsall Hall is open Monday to Thursday 10am – 4pm, and Sundays 1-4pm.

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