Ford Green Hall is the oldest building in Stoke on Trent.
The current building dates to 1624 and most likely sits on the site of an even earlier house. It sits on a main route between the market towns of Leek and Newcastle-Under-Lyme and was built by Hugh Ford who was a local yeoman dairy farmer on the site of an older structure.
The Hall confirmed his status as one of the most important residents of the manor of Norton. The farm at Ford Green consisted of just 36 acres although this was just a small part of the family’s ‘estate’ as they held large amounts of land in neighbouring parishes.
The hall now sits by a very busy road and has been slowly surrounded by the modern world encroaching on this once, quiet area of farmland. As you approach the hall it looks out of this time and place in its setting, perched lower than the modern day levels of the road with its distinctive and striking black and white wooden design, which is a wonderful introduction to this enchanting building. The hall offers a fascinating insight into the ordinary, local lives of the Tudors and Stuarts.
The original main hall was considerably smaller than it looks like today. A porch was added around 1630 and brick extensions built in 1728 and 1734. The older building is of wattle and daub manufacture. This was a process using woven twigs and branches together with animal dung.
Walking around the rooms you could smell the age of the building. It was a fascinating insight into life some 396 years ago when every room would have bustled with noisy activity.
The house is furnished with original furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries such as an original bed from 1600 which belonged to the Deane family who lived at nearby Norton Hall and a wonderful long wooden seat in the Dining Hall which is inscribed ‘Dom 1716’.
The ancient looking wooden chests which have been marked extensively through the centuries would have contained personal and household items. Chests of drawers were not in common use until around 1700 and it was not usual to hang clothes in cupboards in the way that we do today.
The building is popular with ghost hunters with apparitions of a man in period costume holding a silver topped cane, believed to possibly be William Ford appearing often as well as a woman who vanishes through a wall where a staircase used to be and a man in a red coat often seen standing at the top of the attic stairs with his hands on his hips.
The Parlour was originally used as a main bedroom but also as a sitting room which was a common arrangement at the time with the best furniture being placed in this room. Privacy was a luxury few could afford and in 1712 the Hall Chamber contains 3 beds, and these would not have been the 4-poster kind. The Main hustle and bustle of the house would have been in the Hall where most of the cooking was done. The family would have had their meals in here on a long table as they discussed the days events.
As you walk around you get real sense of the history of the place and can smell the age of the building. Many rooms are fitted with intricate wood panelling and walking over the slightly higgledy-piggledy nature of the floors and stairs you can imagine the bustling hive of activity this space would have been some 396 years ago.
I wonder whether the inhabitants would have ever imagined someone walking around their very home and their living room one day as a museum, viewing their space and possessions through the lens of almost 4 centuries of modernisation together with the rapid industrial, technological and societal changes we have seen since. The beginnings of the industrial revolution and the transformative potteries industry which the area would become so famous for was still well over a century away.
There is an excellent virtual tour of the whole building here http://fordgreenhall.org.uk/virtual-tour.html