Under the Rose

A visitor experiences Under the Rose at Speke Hall, Liverpool

Step into the courtyard at Speke Hall from 13 March to discover a sound piece that will bring to life the hidden rebellions contained within the very fabric of the building. Inspired by priest holes, spies and eavesdroppers, artist Serena Korda has created an installation which explores the secret spaces and histories of the hall.

Under the Rose or Sub Rosa means secrecy or in secret. Throughout ancient history the rose has been recognised as a symbol of secrecy and ceiling roses were often placed in locations indicating that secrecy needed to be upheld. In this new sound work created for the courtyard at Speke, Serena Korda was inspired by the acoustics of secrecy charting a history of observation, eavesdropping and the hiding of Catholic priests at the hall.

How can I experience it?

Under the Rose is located in the courtyard of Speke Hall and you must have a full property ticket to enter this area. If you've got headphones and a smartphone with you, great! You can stream the sound work below. Alternatively you can pick up a headset in the Vestibule as you enter the hall and listen to it that way.

Under the Rose will be at Speke Hall from 13 March until 19 July. It can be accessed during normal Hall opening times (Wed-Sun and on Bank Holidays from 12.30-4.30pm).

" The courtyard at Speke is a special place not only because of the presence of Adam and Eve, the two yew trees that hold the house together, but because of the unique way in which sound bounces off of its walls. This was once the entrance to Speke and for this reason was built with acoustics in mind during the Reformation when Catholic families like the Norrises wanted to protect themselves. They were aware of the power of acoustics at the time and built eaves into the courtyard to enable eavesdropping. Under the Rose has an unsettling quality, making you aware of the layers of secret histories that the house holds and the importance of acoustics in providing protection."

Who Created It?

Award-winning artist Serena Korda created the installation and soundscape. Her work includes performance, sound and sculpture, including the eye-catching ceramic mushrooms featured in The Bell Tree, which can be seen in Speke Hall's woodland until 19 July. Serena's work reconsiders aspects of tradition in our lives, under-explored feminist narratives - herstories- and the alternative histories of folklore and witchcraft. She is the 2016-17 Norma Lipman & BALTIC Fellow in Ceramic Sculpture at Newcastle University, and has curated the Daughters of Necessity exhibition at The Hepworth, choosing ceramic works from their collection which are sited alongside her own. 

For more information about Serena and her work please see her website or follow her on Instagram @serenakorda where you’ll catch behind the scenes glimpses of the making of new work. 


We'll be working in partnership with renowned Liverpool arts venue, Bluecoat, on this project. Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts is the oldest in the UK. Their landmark building in the heart of the city centre is home to a year-round programme of exhibitions, music, dance, literature, live art and heritage events.

Step into their courtyard garden and discover a smaller installation created by Serena.

Trust New Art

Trust New Art is the National Trust's programme connecting people to places through contemporary arts. Speke Hall hosted an installation from artist Alice May Williams in 2016 and we're delighted to welcome Serena Korda to Speke in 2018 & 2019.