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  • Writer's pictureThe English Translator

Rufford Old Hall near Ormskirk, UK

Even though Rufford Old Hall is fairly close to where I used to live, I'd never actually been there until recently. Originally owned by the Hesketh family, the house has a fascinating history dating back to Tudor times. It bears many a secret of its Catholic heritage as it was caught up in the times and tribulations of Henry VIII and the Church of England when it was essential to be on the 'right' side or fear imprisonment or death. Now owned by the National Trust, the Great Hall is is the only original building to have survived along with a brick-built wing that was added in 1661.

I doubt many people would recognise the figures in this mobile screen sitting in the Great Hall of Rufford Old Hall. Go on, have a guess before I tell you. I'll give you a little clue first though. If you check my post higher up, you'll see I mentioned a member of the Royal Family. Any ideas? Well, it's Henry VIII and the other figure is his second wife Anne Boleyn. Now I didn't know them personally but I'm guessing it's not a good likeness. I wonder if Henry ever saw it.

The screen dates back to between 1530 and 1540 and is carved from what is called bog oak, which, as the name suggests, is wood that has been retrieved from a peat bog, giving it its dark, rich colour. The screen is the only known example to have survived from the early 16th century. The belief at the time was that only God can create perfection, so three deliberate mistakes were incorporated into the screen: an upside-down panel, a different pattern and an angel with an extra digit. The other photo shows the beautiful timbered ceiling and the view overlooking the hall taken through a quatrefoil squint on the second floor.

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