The manner in which historic houses have been maintained and regarded has varied over the centuries and has been subject to the attitudes and lifestyles of their owners. Acquisition by the National Trust or other heritage organisations is often regarded as bringing an end to this process and effectively ‘freezing’ the appearance of the house. Since it was completed in the early seventeenth century, the way in which Speke Hall, near Liverpool, has been treated and lived in by its owners has altered regularly according to fashion and taste, at times cherished, at other times neglected. However, even in the decades since the National Trust accepted the house in 1943, there have been different approaches to the house’s presentation to the public. This article examines the changing attitudes to Speke Hall over four centuries and suggests that the period of public ownership should be seen as another phase in the history of the house.