LITTLE MORETON HALL (2)
History of the Hall.
Little Moreton Hall belonged to the Moreton family, a family that grew immensely rich by taking full advantage of social and religious upheavals of their times. With the decrease in population during the Black Death (1348) much land was placed on the market and was purchased cheaply by the Moretons. They were staunch loyalists and eager tax collectors for the reigning monarch. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth the family owned a vast area of land.
The earliest part of the building is the Hall which probably dates from around the middle of the 15th century and was built by Sir Richard de Moreton and the kitchen area was built around 1480 by William Moreton.
The building was extended and improved by William Moreton II (d. 1563). It was during his lifetime that the east wing of the building was rebuilt and extended by the addition of a Withdrawing Room and Chapel. It was also during his lifetime that the five-sided bay windows were made. There is no doubt about who made them as the carpenter Richard Dale inscribed his name on the frieze. The inscription reads as follows:
"God is Al in Al Thing: This windous whire made by William Moreton in the yeare of Oure Lorde MDLIX
Richard Dale Carpeder made thies windous by the grac of God."
Little Moreton Hall
Richard Dale's Bay Windows
(click the image for a larger size picture)
The same carpenter's name appeared also in the will of William Moreton (1563) in which he gave instructions for the completion of the work.
The house was further extended by William's son John (d. 1598) who had the south wing built housing a gatehouse with accommodation for guests above and a 68 ft Long Gallery added on top. This now meant that three sides of the courtyard were closed. Little Moreton Hall is a courtyard house but the west side was never closed.
It is the weight of the Long Gallery that has created the characteristic irregular shape of the building making the south wing tilt.
It is interesting to note that the building and extensions to the property span the pre-Reformation and post- Reformation periods. Work was carried on during the reigns of Henry VII and Elizabeth. It is therefore also pre- Renaissance and Renaissance. Signs of the Renaissance influence can be seen in the decoration and in the Elizabethan fireplaces. However, the building is definitely medieval in character.
In the early part of the 1600s the domestic part of the building was added on the west side of the courtyard.
The decline of the Moreton family came during the Civil War (1660) as they naturally sided with the Royalist cause. With the decline of the family came the decline of the building. The family could never face the cost of maintaining the building and in the 18th century they eventually decided to live elsewhere. Following the trend at that time the property was placed in the hands of tenant farmers. The house, however, has been well preserved and its essential character unaltered.
Towards the end of the 19th century Miss Elizabeth Moreton had financed the restoration of the building. The building, however, was never again occupied by the Moreton family.