I choose to visit this site as a daytrip between Manchester and Liverpool. I always try to find somewhere interesting to stop between my more major destinations partly to make best use of my car journey and partly because I prefer to check-in to my accommodation when I arrive to a new city. Unload what I need, put the car away, and set off to explore. There is always a few hour gap between check-out and check-in times and most of my distances on this trip are very short.
On entering the museum I learn that this was a monastery that was decommissioned by Henry VIII in 1536. He did this in a wide sweep, caused lots of destruction all over the empire at that time. The Priory was subsequently purchased by the Brooke Family who lived here for nearly 400 years.
In the 1700’s the Brooks family had built a 2 1/2 acre walled garden. This garden would have provided the home with all of its fruits, vegetables, and flowers. It also would have housed a leisure section.
Ornamental and practical, this walled garden was reconstructed in recent years based on typical Georgian gardens since the original blueprints were not recovered. The Brooks had moved out of the priory in 1921 and the garden had been let to local gardens and used to raised pheasants. By the 1960s it had started to fall into ruin.
The kindly woman knitting in the entrance cottage of the walled garden chats with me openly and warmly. I come to learn that today the gardens employ a head gardener, an assistant, and many local volunteers who come in and dedicate their time to weeding and even staffing the entry.
There is a tea house, book stall, and plants for sale in the area that once housed potting sheds and was also where the gardeners were housed. This was a tough job, I am surprised how much so. The next photo explains.
This is an ice house. A luxury for the family, it was large enough to supply ice throughout the year. In fact this home never had electricity right until the family left in 1921 so the ice was needed for refrigeration. I read that this was one of the mostly undesirable tasks, hiking to the pond a half mile away, going at it with axes, and carrying back the frozen water during winter’s coldest days. Continually until it was full of ice by the end of winter. Not a long Canadian winter either, the short English winter. It would have had a drain system to remove melt.
Well, I have found the village square, not what I had in mind. The only option for lunch is a convenience store, so I get a dry packaged sandwich and a can of starbucks. In the square I greet three separate groups of people who pass by. They look but no one replies. Just when I am thinking that I have happened upon a land where people have no tongues a man shouts at his dog and violently jerks him into the air for running into a puddle nearby. I feel sick to my stomach. The nasty man has two really cute basset hounds. I want to shout at the jerk but decide not to, me shouting at him would make no difference, he could even kick his other dog just to show me so. Disgusting.
Back at the carpark I decide to try the other direction, I don’t want to pull away with this bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps a visit to the lovely-sounding Sandymoor will do the trick. I have already been the other ways, the ones perpendicular are actually of the Norton Priory.
They have gone to a lot of expense and trouble to have wonderful, seemingly-unused cycle paths here. (I encounter no one in any direction during my usage.) But they need to go one step further and put-up some more direction signs, without those this is a waste.
I return to the Priory Cafe where I do this posting from start to finish sipping a self-serve cappuccino out of a push-button machine. The sunlight and gardens make it a nice place to work, and I have cellular reception to be able to do my blog using my portable internet.
There are loads of things to see and do in nearby Liverpool and Manchester. If you are going between the two cities, this is an interesting diversion. But if you have limited time I would not recommend dedicating time to this over spending more time in the other cities. This is the perfect place to have a day out if you live in Manchester or Liverpool and therefore your travel time is not limited, but unless you have a strong interest in archaeology I would not suggest you put this high on your list.