Rydal Hall

The seat of the Le Fleming family, Lords of the Manor of Rydal from the early 15th century. The Hall allegedly boasts a Priests Hole and in 1640 there were certainly catholics at the Hall. Accounts  lists ten Catholics  entered as ‘ “convicted Recusants” each having to pay a fine of 1/4d  (approx.7p )  One Salomaon Benson appears in the accounts and may have been the priest who celebrated mass and the names “ Chapel Chamber” and “Priest Chamber” were in use for the two upper rooms at the Hall until 1750 as shown in the inventory. 

In 1905 a  fall of burning soot  occurred and a waller was sent up the chimney to investigate. He found a space some seven to ten feet square  opening on to it on a level with the upper floor in a twelve foot thickness of wall.

This could possibly have been a priest hole for hiding a priest in times of religious upheaval although there is some dispute regarding the space as some think it may have been a traditional Smoking Chimney, used for the  curing of meat, a common feature of old houses in the area.The room now lies between a bathroom and bedrooms and is no longer visible.

Coleridge records in his “Notebooks” walking around Rydal in 1799 and recounts a notable occasion when, walking with Wordsworth to view the Low Fall, they were berated by a Le Fleming servant for having walked in front of the house…

 The First World War permanently changed the life style of the gentry.In the early 1900's the squire was still in residence and Rydal Hall had some 32 staff, these included an ordinary governess, a French governess, nanny  and under- nurse for the squire's four children. The domestic organisation of the Hall was the responsibility of a butler, footman, housekeeper and cook who were, in turn responsible for three house maids, a kitchen maid, and a scullery maid.

The coachman was accompanied by the groom who rode with him at the front of the family coach.

The grounds of the Rydal Hall were managed by three woodmen, three gamekeepers and a number of gardeners.

In the 1950's the Hall functioned for a time as an hotel before being taken over by the Carlisle diocese in 1963.

Rydal Mount