Tension, Turmoil and Traitors: The Story of Tudor Speke

Sillhouettes in the Great Hall

In 2020, this fascinating exhibition unfolds further to reveal the turmoil of Elizabethan England and the life or death secrets kept hidden inside the walls of Speke Hall by the Catholic Norris family.

As Catholics, the Norris family who built and lived at Speke Hall lived a dangerous life under Elizabeth I’s Protestant rule, with the country around them divided by religion and power. Discover traces of this era all over Speke Hall, from the eavesdropper hidden high above in the courtyard to the priest hole upstairs where you can witness the frightening experience of what a priest hunt was really like.

To see the exhibition, enter the house between Wednesday-Sunday from 12.30-5pm. During the holidays, the house is open Tuesday-Sunday. Please check our opening times here before you visit.

Find out what you can do and see as part of this new exhibition below, and don't forget to share your experience on social media with us @NTSpekeHall.

" Not every rebellion begins with a battle cry... Some rebellions happen within walls, silent hollows of homes and whispered ideals of powerful and unshakeable faith."
- Tension, Turmoil and Traitors: The Story of Tudor Speke
Four things you must see

1. Experience a priest hunt

Once concealed in the corner of the Green Bedroom, the priest hole contains a fascinating insight into the life of a Catholic priest in Tudor times. Be transported back in time by our 3D audio and video recreation of a priest hunt. Listen as soldiers enter Speke Hall and watch as the priest seeks refuge up the ladder and into safety... but for how long?

Discover the story of Speke Hall's priest hole
The ladder leading to the priest hole at Speke Hall
Discover the story of Speke Hall's priest hole

2. Look up and spot the eavesdropper

Ever wonder where the term 'eavesdropper' comes from? In the courtyard, look above and you will spot a hole under the eaves where servants could listen in on visitors conversations. In a time of religious persecution, this was a way for the Norrises to find out if someone was a friend or foe.

Look up and spot the eavesdropper
Visitors looking up at the eavesdropper in Speke Hall's courtyard
Look up and spot the eavesdropper

3. Listen out for whispers in the Great Hall

In the magnificent Great Hall, you will find the whispering gallery. This was where the servants could hide away and listen to guests' conversations to decide if their presence was a threat. Come face to face with life-size silhouettes representing key characters of Elizabethan Speke Hall and discover their fascinating stories.

Meet Tudor figures from Elizabethan Speke
Sillhouettes in the Great Hall
Meet Tudor figures from Elizabethan Speke

4. Uncover Catholic life at Speke Hall

Explore other rooms in the house to discover more about the life of a Catholic family in Elizabethan times, from the Estate Office's religious history to the traces of the Norris family's daily life in the Oak Parlour.

Our room guides are always on hand to answer any questions you may have, and you may even spot a few Tudor ladies and gentlemen making their way through the house from time to time!

Explore the highlights of the hall
The Oak Parlour at Speke Hall, Liverpool
Explore the highlights of the hall
Explore the secrets of Speke Hall

Herbs, Happiness and Humours at the Hall

Step back in time to the year 1598. Join little Anne and Will Norris to discover how they lived their lives to be happy and healthy Tudors on this fun indoor trail for children. Don't forget to collect your sticker reward from the shop!

The Library at Speke Hall with William Morris wallpaper

Top 10 highlights inside the house 

Over the past five centuries, Speke Hall has become home to plenty of fascinating objects and features. Check out our list of the top 10 things we care for inside this Tudor house with a Victorian personality.