Thursday, August 8, 2013

Markenfield Hall, UK--The Hall

After visiting the moat, let's go through the guardhouse and see the courtyard and the interior of Markenfield Hall!

The courtyard is remarkably like it was back in the middle ages. A report from Queen Elizabeth's surveyors (the property was confiscated since the owners were on the losing side of the Rising of the North) gives the same impression that modern visitors would--the main hall is in the back, flanked by various farm buildings and lodgings for farm workers and visitors. The only thing out of place now is the modern vehicles.

Stables, now the garage

The main hall across the courtyard

Visitor accommodations and work rooms (and anachronistic vehicle)

The entrance is slightly changed in that a stone staircase formerly lead above the current door into the great hall on the first floor (or second floor if you are American). Visitors can see the archway that has been filled in slowly being covered over in foliage.

Main Hall

Inside, the first room is the Undercroft, which would have provided support to the great kitchen on the left. The kitchen is no longer there, it has been subdivided into several other rooms. After the Crown took over in the 1570s, the Undercroft also was subdivided. The entrance room became the kitchen for the tenant farmers who worked on the estate. The great hall's fireplace was dismantled and brought downstairs, making the centerpiece of the farm kitchen.

Entrance fireplace

Neighboring small kitchen

Medieval arches from the Undercroft

The rooms to the right lead to the interior stairwell, with the usual apparatus--coat hooks and a nice grandfather clock.

L can't wait to go upstairs

J is serious about being on time!

The Great Hall was originally built in 1280 and was a free standing building. When John de Markenfield was licensed to crenelate the house, he united the Great Hall to the surrounding buildings, making the impressive manor house that stands today. The hall was used for entertaining until the confiscation. Both it and the chapel were used for storage by the farmers. A modern replica of the 1340 fireplace has been installed, along with many furnishings and paintings to make a comfortable if busy room.

Great Hall from the stairs

The "new" fireplace

Books, busts, and breakables (luckily out of children's reach)

My dream--a bookcase with a ladder!

A fancy chest

Down a short hallway from the Great Hall is the Chapel. The hallway has a spooky arch and the windy staircase we guessed must be in the house when we were outside.

Spooky arch

Windy staircase

Exterior of windy staircase

The chapel is dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel and was part of the 1310 expansion of the house. Mass was said here daily for 250 years by a series of resident priests, who were probably associated with nearby Ripon Cathedral (only three miles away). After the Rising, it became a store house and was eventually restored as a chapel in the 1980s.

St. Michael Archangel


North wall, indicating where two levels were built for storage

One remarkable part of the chapel is the medieval double piscina. It was used by the priest to wash his hand on one side and to clean the chalice and paten on the other side. The carving is quite elaborate, including the Markenfield crest and several oak leaves and acorns.

Medieval piscina

Nearby is a 17th century statue of a pelican feeding her young. It was believed that pelicans would tear open their breasts and feed their own blood to their young, much like Christ offering His blood on the cross to save mankind. Beneath the baby pelicans is the crown of thorns.

Pelican in her piety

We saw several bedrooms but signs asked not to take photos since the bedrooms are in use by the family. The rooms look cozy but it is hard to imagine living in such a house day to day.

Markenfield Hall is only open a few times a year and we have been meaning to see it for quite some time. We were happy to have the opportunity and highly recommend a visit. Services are still held in the chapel, which we have thought about attending but haven't worked it out yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment