Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Lady Waterford Hall (NT947375)

© Copyright Martin Dawes and licensed for reuse 

The village of Ford has many historical items of interest, the most unusual of which is perhaps Lady Waterford Hall. And it all came to be following the transference of the ownership of the Ford Estate (on the death of her husband) to one Lady Louisa Waterford in 1859, when she set about the re-design and rebuilding of the entire village.

Lady Waterford was a talented artist and a great philanthropist, and it was her intention to carry out her ambitious project distinctly for the benefit of her tenants. In fact, she favoured the latter over the former to the detriment of her artistic career. Part of the scheme was the construction of a new school, a lovely little affair which is now known as Lady Waterford Hall. 

As useful as the public building was (it had as many as 134 children on its books in its heyday and remained in use until 1957), it provided her ladyship with a nice outlet for her watercolouring skills. For the interior of the hall is adorned with Biblical scenes for the education of her young attendees – painted over a twenty-two year period during 1862-1883. And the really fascinating fact about the whole thing is that the children themselves and many of the local villagers were used as models in the scenes depicted. Moreover, the names of these humble individuals are recorded for posterity – a great boon for any of their descendants who may be into family history!

It is now used as the village hall – and is surely one of the very best buildings of its type in the country! More info here (including a little video). 

© Copyright Martin Dawes and licensed for reuse 

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