A marriage made in Little Moreton Hall
Meet the lucky newlyweds starting married life in 500-year-old Tudor house, Little Moreton Hall. Emma Mayoh reports
Few newlyweds could hope for a marital home like Little Moreton Hall. Even the newest Royal couple, Kate and William, would turn green with envy pulling into Rebecca and Richard Alexander’s drive at the National Trust property near Congleton.
The floorboards may be uneven, every year thousands of people traipse past their front door - which incidentally doesn’t fit the frame - there are more than 30,000 panes of glass to keep clean and the more than 500-year-old Tudor property, near Congleton, looks like it could fall down at any minute. But the couple know they have hit the jackpot.
Rebecca, the hall’s visitor experience manager, said: ‘We absolutely love living here. It is a place with the wow factor. When we tell people we live here they can’t believe it. I’m sure we could give Kate and William some tips on living in an historic house.
‘Richard still had his old house in Nantwich and we always joke about that being our town residence and Little Moreton our country residence. The hall is the place we call home though.’
Little Moreton Hall, which is often referred to as the ‘higgledy piggledy house’ because of its uneven front facade, is Grade I listed. The earliest part of the house, the Great Hall, was built for Sir Richard de Moreton around 1450. Other parts, including the kitchen wing, the east wing and the south wing, were built later. A 68 foot long gallery which was placed on top of the original structure is responsible for giving the house its unusual look because the weight caused the structure below to bow.
Rebecca, 31, has lived at Little Moreton on and off over the past few years during her time working at the National Trust property. Richard, 41, moved in about a year ago. They married last November and now live as husband and wife in their converted one bedroom flat.
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It is in one of the oldest parts of the hall and would once have been used as a living space by the Moreton family. Modern additions have been made in the flat and partition walls have been put in to protect the structure. However, original timber beams can be seen in the walls throughout their home, glazed panels protect the hall’s trademark leaded windows and original doorways are still evident in the flat.
Several friends have been to visit the couple in their home, including one who works as a set designer for the production company Cameron Mackintosh Limited who took inspiration from the original Tudor doorframes for one of her sets.
Rebecca said: ‘It’s nice to think that people are inspired by our home. Many people, including artists, come here because it inspires creativity in them and I really like that.’
The couple, who met while working at a local estate agent, share the house with the hall’s property manager, David Watts who lives in the other side of the building. But during the busy months when the building is open, they all have to share their home with the thousands of visitors.
‘You do get a few odd looks if you’re walking through the hall with your shopping bags. People always wonder what you're up to. There are restrictions working here as well, for instance there always has to be me or David within 20 minutes of the property and you have to wait until the gates are closed before you can enjoy a glass of wine out on the lawn.
‘But any negatives are far outweighed by the positives and I love the fact that we can share the hall with so many people. We’re living where the Moretons would have lived which is incredible. This would have been their quarters. Sometimes I watch something on television that is set in the same period and I think about how this house would have been built by that point. It is such an important part of Cheshire’s history and we get to live in it.’
Although the couple didn’t marry in the hall’s tiny chapel - the size of their guest list wouldn’t allow - it was important it was included as part of their day. They had some of their wedding pictures taken there and, as a surprise, were greeted by some of the volunteers who had dressed in full Tudor costume to mark the occasion.
Although Rebecca realises the job - and therefore her home - won’t be forever, she has no plans to leave in the near future.
‘I love this house too much,’ she said. ‘We’ve had a very special time here so far. It was a total surprise when the volunteers met us here on our wedding day. I know we will have to leave eventually but I will be sorry when we do.
‘There is a lot of history in the walls of this building. It’s really nice to think that we will always be a part of Little Moreton Hall’s story because we have been lucky enough to live in it. It’s also been our first home as a married couple. It will always be a part of us and we will always be a part of it.’