The Story so far…
Calderstones is steeped in history – from the Neolithic stones which give the park it’s name, the 1000 year old Allerton Oak, and the rich history of the Mansion House itself, The Reader is proud to take on the next chapter of the story.
The Calder Stones
Originally a burial monument constructed by some of the earlier inhabitants of the local area in the Neolithic era, the Calder Stones consist of six engraved monolithic sandstones which were rearranged in a circle during the 18th century. The stones were relocated by Joseph Need Walker during his ownership of the Mansion House and are currently housed in the Harthill Greenhouse within Calderstones Park.
The Calder Stones will be removed for preservation and relocated within the courtyard of the new International Centre for Shared Reading where they will be better protected from further weathering and open for public viewing.
The Allerton Oak
Located close to the Mansion House, the Allerton Oak is thought to be over 1000 years old.
Standing since the Middle Ages, the tree’s wide, outstretched branches once formed a medieval courtroom and during World War II, friends and family would send acorns and leaves from the tree to their loved ones at the front, the oak leaf being a symbol of strength and endurance.
The mighty oak may still be a symbol of strength but its structure is a little less solid than it once was with a huge crack in the trunk and the tree is protected by railings and supported by metal poles.
In 2007, gardener Jon Warren planted Allerton Oak the Younger which continues to thrive in the garden of the Mansion House. Read more.
The Mansion House
Built in 1828 by Joseph Need Walker, a lead shot manufacturer, the Mansion House and surrounding buildings are Grade II listed and form an important part of Liverpool’s merchant history.
In 1875, the estate was sold to Charles MacIver, a shipping magnate who established the world famous Cunard Line in partnership with Samuel Cunard. His sons Henry and Charles MacIver sold the Mansion House and surrounding outhouses to Liverpool Corporation in 1902.
During World War II, the Mansion was used by the Armed Forces’ Holidays at Home scheme, designed to boost civilians’ morale by providing short breaks away from the stress of war.
A covered stage was added to the rear of the Mansion House in the late 1940s, which was well used and loved by the local community until the 1970s when the theatre closed and Liverpool City Council began using the buildings as offices.
The Reader at Calderstones
In January 2013, The Reader were awarded ‘preferred bidder’ status for Calderstones Mansion by Liverpool City Council having submitted a proposal to redevelop the building and the surrounding outhouses into The International Centre for Shared Reading.
Calderstones was established as The Reader’s HQ in September 2014 and since then we have established weekly Shared Reading groups on site, hosted various visiting theatre productions and the North West Conker Championship among other events.
We’ve welcomed visitors from all over the world, including South Korea, Germany, Austrailia, and Scandinavia to discuss the benefits of Shared Reading, established The Storybarn and The Reader Ice Cream Parlour, in addition to the bustling Reader Cafe and The Reader Gallery.
Highlights at Calderstones
The Big Dig
In the Spring of 2015, the very first community archaeological dig took place at Calderstones Park. Over a period of two weeks digging, we invited people to help us discover the ancient history of Calderstones, as part of the Connect at Calderstones project in conjunction with the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Museums Liverpool.
The Globe visit the Garden Theatre
The Garden Theatre reopened after forty years in August 2013 with five-star rated performances of King Lear by Shakespeare’s Globe who have since returned with productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet.
The Secret Garden of Stories
In August 2014, Calderstones hosted The Reader’s first Children’s Literature Festival with special guest appearances from children’s authors Cathy Cassidy, Andy Mulligan, Jon Mayhew and Lydia Monks as well as storytelling sessions, giant games and a Wonderland tea party in the woods.
Heritage Open Days
Since September 2014 we have celebrated the annual Heritage Open Days festival, opening the Calder Stones to the public across the four day events as well as hosting talks and information stalls by local historians and heritage experts.
The 1940s Tea Dance
Hundreds of people have joined us to step back in time and enjoy a true taste of authentic wartime dancing and music.
The Summer Fair
We’ve hosted three sunny Summer Fairs in the Mansion garden, welcoming hundreds of visitors to enjoy crafts, games and entertainment.
Open Days at the Mansion House
In April 2013 we opened the doors to the Mansion House to the public for the first time in forty years. We welcomed over 1,200 visitors to share their memories of the building and their hopes for it’s future at the heart of the community.
To find out more about the history of Calderstones and learn more about previous events and future plans, visit the Calderstones Blog.