History of Lytham Hall

History of Lytham Hall

Everyone knows about the history of Blackpool Tower – fewer know about the history of Lytham Hall. They’re the two Grade I listed buildings here on the Fylde Coast.

Lytham Hall is the only ‘stately home’ on the Fylde coast, owned by local charity Lytham Town Trust. It’s managed by regional charity Heritage Trust for the North West.

It’s also the only wooded community resource left on the Fylde coast. And for good measure, it also has a number of grade II listed buildings on the estate.

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Lytham Hall Open Times

The grounds of the Hall (80 acres of mature parkland) are open throughout the year. Please check times and availability with the Hall before travelling.

There are a number of special events held throughout the year. Find out about special events and What’s On at Lytham Hall

A Guided Tour

Lytham Hall is in the top 2.5% of national listed buildings and it needs our help and support.

The main gates are on Ballam Road, Lytham or weekdays there is pedestrian only access via Forest Drive Lytham. (Find it hidden in the undergrowth near the ‘Hole in One’ public house).

Lytham Hall by Claire Grierson, Lytham St Annes High Technology and Performing Arts College
Lytham Hall by Claire Grierson (photo taken in 2011), Lytham St Annes High Technology and Performing Arts College

Opening the Hall to the public helps it to earn its keep. That’s not inconsiderable, with annual heating costs and insurance alone exceeding in the region of £20k. Let’s not go anywhere near what it costs to run and maintain the place!

Inside Lytham Hall, by Joe Curran, Blackpool 6th Form College
Inside Lytham Hall (photo taken in 2011), by Joe Curran, Blackpool 6th Form College

Lytham Hall is a registered Charity, owned by Lytham Town Trust (LTT) which is another Charity. It’s managed by Heritage Trust for the North West (HTNW) – yet another Charity. It’s supported by Friends of Lytham Hall… which is another Charity!

The Squire(s) of Lytham who once owned the estate once owned much of the surrounding area. All along the coast there’s reference to ‘Talbot’ and ‘Clifton’. You’ll see pubs, road names and many more – such was the influence of the family.

A Quick History of Lytham Hall

(Although this is best gained by a visit on a Sunday when the volunteer-led tours take place during the afternoon – charges apply).

The Monks and the Cliftons

The site dates back to 12th Century when the naughty monks of Durham were exiled to Lytham. There are still bits of the Monastery on the estate. With the Dissolution of the monasteries some 400 years later, the estate reverted to the Crown.

Then it passed through several pairs of hands before being bought by the ‘Colourful Clifton’s’. Cuthbert Clifton paid £4300 for the Manor of Clifton  in 1606. He enlarged the manor house and made it the family seat. It was in use until 1757 when it was replaced with the present Lytham Hall.

Tuck postcard of Lytham Hall from 1909
Tuck postcard of Lytham Hall from 1909

They held it – along with several other estates in this country and Ireland – until the mid-1960’s. When the family hit dire-straits, it was sold off. Guardian Royal Exchange (GRE), the Insurance people, owned it until 1996.

There’s more about the history of the Lytham area here

Rescued by the Community

When GRE decided to off-load it, Lytham Town Trust (LTT) was formed to buy the remains of the estate for the community and protect it from the developers. Much of the estate had previously been sold off to repay the Clifton’s gambling debts! A generous donation of about £1 million was made by BAE to secure the property. However, this didn’t include any income to maintain it.

HTNW joined forces with LTT, the outcome of which was a bid in March 2011 to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The grant covered essential maintenance work and began developing the Hall into a tourist attraction to encourage more people to visit Lytham and the surrounding areas.

Visit Lytham Hall

The main gates on Ballam Road are a stone’s throw from Lytham Station, with bus stops about a 5 minute walk away.

There are trails through the woodland, ponds and an abundance of flora and fauna. It’s all unspoilt, ‘au naturel’ and largely as nature intended – except where paths have been added for buggies and car parks created. Gardens surround the house.

Snowdrop Season at Lytham Hall. Photo by Harry Dobbs
Snowdrop Season at Lytham Hall. Photo by Harry Dobbs

Lytham Hall welcomes school parties for tours of the Hall and play in the park during the week, subject to prior arrangement with the estate office. Very reasonable charges apply. Snowdrop season is very popular, when the gardens open at weekends in February.

Finally, Lytham Hall also welcomes groups for tours of the Hall (with or without catering – charges apply) during the week. Age is no barrier – baby and toddler groups are welcome as are grannies and grandads. The Hall is ‘disability-friendly’ – in so far as it is possible to be with an ancient building, when such issues were not given paramount consideration!

So, all in all, if you’d like to see history come to life, then a trip to Lytham Hall is well worth it.


Lytham Hall gets Bags of Help to open a brand new kitchen garden

On Tuesday 9 May 2017 the Kitchen Garden project was officially opened. It looks splendid and is a real feature for visitors too.

The new Kitchen Garden at Lytham Hall
The new Kitchen Garden at Lytham Hall

It was made possible thanks to a Tesco’s Bags of Help grant of £10,000 for the development of a community kitchen garden next to the apiary. It includes 18 raised beds, space for soft fruit, herbs and potatoes, plus composting areas, cycle parking and five disabled car parking spaces.

Local businesses were contacted to support the scheme, and generous offers followed from Barton Grange garden centre, Robinsons Seeds, Mahoneys, Sloggetts plumbing and Grantham signs.

The official opening of the kitchen garden was performed by Ms Emma Barrett, Tesco store manager, to loud applause of the gathered crowd. She was very pleased to see the plastic bag money being put to such good use. The plan is to use produce in the tea room

Opening of the new Kitchen Garden at Lytham Hall. Sue Lowe (volunteer coordinator) and Emma Barrett (Tesco) in front of kitchen garden sign, with celebratory cake
Opening of the new Kitchen Garden at Lytham Hall. Sue Lowe (volunteer coordinator) and Emma Barrett (Tesco) in front of kitchen garden sign, with celebratory cake

A special appearance was made by Emily Clifton, a descendant of the Clifton family who once called Lytham Hall their home. She kindly took time out of her work schedule down south to join the festivities.

Refurbishment of Lytham Hall Tea Room

In January 2016 Lytham Hall Tea Room was refurbished and redecorated before being reopened.

The previously unassuming Tea Room saw an incredible change to comfy chairs, eclectic mahogany tables, vintage china cups, book-lined walls and dramatic lighting.

Refurbished tea room at Lytham Hall
Refurbished tea room at Lytham Hall

Heritage Trust for the North West appointed Paul Anthony and Peter Lomax to the staff at Lytham Hall, as the next step in the development of the Tea Room. They’re well known locally for their involvement in various successful catering businesses, and in musical and theatre circles.

Paul Anthony and Peter Lomax, appointed to the staff at Lytham Hall to manage the tea room
Paul Anthony and Peter Lomax, appointed to the staff at Lytham Hall to manage the tea room

Just as the work of Peter, Paul and Lytham Hall volunteers was essential, the changes wouldn’t have been possible without the support of local businesses and organisations which have generously supported the makeover with materials, labour and donations.

Roman Coins and Archaeology Finds

TWO tiny Roman coins were unearthed by volunteers at Lytham Hall in November 2015.

One of the Roman coins found at Lytham Hall
One of the Roman coins found at Lytham Hall

They opened a fascinating chapter in the hall’s colourful history – and sparked a mystery, because the two coins are believed to be the earliest archaeological finds made – not just at the hall but anywhere in the town.

The coins – known as radiates – were discovered by Hall gardening volunteers  Julia Lipman and Peter Smith. They’re more than  1750 years old, according to Harris Museum, Preston. They were issued for the Roman emperor Gallienus who reigned jointly with Valerian between 253-260 and then became sole ruler of the empire in 260-268.

That makes them almost 100 years older than any previous Roman coin finds in Lytham. Amazingly there were nine officially recorded in the same year. Most were found by metal detectorists along the banks of the River Ribble.

Incredibly these two coins were in use many centuries even before the Benedictine Priory was founded on the Lytham Hall site in 1189. There’s been no previous evidence of Roman occupation, so it got historians baffled.

Mystery of the coins

One theory is that the two coins may have been accidentally dropped in the ground many centuries later. Maybe they were dropped by children – presumably ancestors of the Squires of Lytham, the Clifton family – while playing with them in the garden.

The Project Curator of Money Matters at the Harris Museum, said at the time: “The coins are known as ‘radiates’, after the sun crown worn by emperors on coinage of this date. We don’t actually know for sure what the Romans called this denomination of coin, so ‘radiate’ has stuck!

“One of the coins is from the Mint of Rome and clearly shows the name of the emperor Gallienus . The second shows a head of the fertility goddess Uberitas holding a purse and cornucopia.”

“From our record, several Roman coins have been found in Lytham but all are of a later date than the Hall coins by around 100 years.”

The volunteers who found the coins

Volunteers Julia from St Annes, and Peter from Blackpool, had been working on a bedding plot beneath the Monks wall when they made their discovery. They were just yards away from the main hall building.

Julia and Peter who found two Roman coins at Lytham Hall
Julia and Peter who found two Roman coins at Lytham Hall

Peter, a retired BNFL worker with metal detecting experience, said: “I just glanced down while walking past and noticed the coin shaped object straight away. Coincidentally I had picked up an old penny from the same area the previous day.”

Julia, a retired nurse, added: “Within a matter of minutes of Peter’s discovery I found the second one. Both are incredibly clean coins for their age.”

It was Peter who raised the theory that the two coins were probably dropped not in Roman times but by their later owners, presumably children. He said “There’s a collection of ancient artefacts in the hall, and I think the coins would have originally been part of that collection. There is no evidence of Roman or indeed Mediaeval occupation in Lytham. If there was we would expected to have found evidence of pottery from the period, but there is none”.

Harris history curator James Arnold confirmed that they have no Roman archaeology catalogued in their collection which had been found in Lytham.

Archaeology at Lytham Hall

Archaeologists from the University of Salford Centre for Applied Archaeology, led a community excavation at Lytham Hall.

Community archaeology dig at Lytham Hall
Community archaeology dig at Lytham Hall

The project is was looking for more evidence of the Jacobean Hall and the Benedictine Priory. It focussed on lifting flagstones in the Jacobean courtyard to see what lies beneath. The archaeologists led a team of 12 volunteers.

Community archaeology dig at Lytham Hall

Repainting the Front Elevation of Lytham Hall

In the summer of 2015 the front elevation of Lytham Hall was repainted. The North Entrance porch was done first to show visitors how the front of the Hall would look when complete.

Repainting the front of Lytham Hall in 2015

Nigel Leaney, a volunteer and paint specialist from Lincolnshire, helped to uncover the original colour which John Carr, the architect for Lytham Hall, used in 1764 when the Hall was built. Nigel has a lifetime of experience of the work of John Carr.

All this work was part of general repairs to the fabric of the Hall e.g. repairing gutters, fall-pipes, window and door repairs. Plus removing unsightly wiring and repointing areas where the tuck pointing was missing.  The work was done during the Summer and early Autumn of 2015.

While you’re here…

Look at the Visit Lytham website homepage for more of the latest updates.

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