Lytham Hall: the snowdrop walk (Lancashire)

Despite having visited Lytham St Anne’s dozens of times, we never knew Lytham Hall (2 miles from the beach sitting amongst 78 acres of woodland) existed.  When we shared this with the volunteers manning the entrance gate (cost £2.50 to visit the famous snowbell walk – of which D had heard “in a house near St Anne’s”), they acknowledged that “yes, we are a well-kept secret and we plan to do something about that“.

The original drive to the house ran straight up to the house through these fields but there is now a curving drive off to the right

I told D “It’s much like Newby Hall“.  Indeed, both have the same architect, John Carr.  We visited the much dilapidated hall (cost £5) for a guided tour and were told that John Carr may not have been the fanciest of architects but he did have two virtues: keeping to the budget and building houses that have stood the test of time.

Having housed a monastery until the Dissolution, in 1606 the manor of Lytham was acquired by local landowner Cuthbert Clifton.

The Cliftons were gentlemen farmers and Cuthbert Clifton built himself a Jacobean half-timbered house on the land behind the current house (with some original parts incorporated in the service buildings).  It was his descendant, Thomas Clifton, who replaced that house with the current hall during 1757–1764.

Ownership of the property descended to John Clifton (1764–1832) and thence to his son Thomas Joseph Clifton (1788–1851), who extensively remodelled the estate by extending the surrounding parkland. It passed via Colonel John Talbot Clifton (1819–1882), MP for North Lancashire, to his 14 year old grandson, the colourful John Talbot Clifton (1868–1928), during whose stewardship the railway was built along the estate’s southern boundary and part of the land sold for housing.

During the First World War the house was used as a military hospital and after the Cliftons had moved to live in Ireland in 1919 and then Scotland in 1922 the house was somewhat neglected. Clifton was a passionate traveller and died in 1928 on an expedition to Timbuktu with his wife, Violet Beauclerk. Violet was the daughter of the ambassador in Peru.   They had three daughters, of which one was call Easter Daffodil.

The Cliftons fell out spectacularly.  She did however outlive him by some 35 years and while she did at one time move to a convent, she returned to a first floor apartment in the house, which remains furnished with her sitting room suite and painting above the fireplace which was painted to replace one that had been sold!

However, while I wanted to see inside the house (I plan to go back again in five years, after a lot of restoration work should have been undertaken – a £2.44m Lottery grant has been received, which the Friends of Newby Hall are busy matching), the star of Lytham Hall in February and March each year is the snowdrop-covered garden and here are some of the pictures I took.

While we admire the snowdrops, back to the house.

Eventually the banks caught up with the family and the bank foreclosed.  The house was sold to Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance, who took over the building in 1963 for office accommodation, before in 1997 they sold to the Lytham Town Trust.

There are some good pictures in the hall (which is painted throughout in the same green, accented with white woodwork) and a fine staircase reminiscent of The Vyne.  Gisueppe Cortese’s plasterwork (which I soooo admire in Fairfax House – another John Carr house) is also laden over the ceilings in Lytham Hall, which must be reason alone to bring this house to its former glory.  In the dining room, some funky Regency/Victorian fiddling with a fine alcove serving table means that it has the most awful, chunky legs.  I was also the only one able to recognise the “old-school” plugs because those are what my granny’s house still has!

The house still stinks of “office use” but if you are in and around Blackpool from 2016 onwards, please visit Lytham Hall.  I even didn’t mind paying the £7.50 entry fees I spent here (being one who usually gets free entry) because I knew it was going to a good cause.

When visited: February 2014


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4 thoughts on “Lytham Hall: the snowdrop walk (Lancashire)

  1. I’ve heard of Lytham because of the golf course and was there in 1996. I enjoyed your lovely description of your visit and the very lovely images of the snowdrops. After we move to Florence in September, we plan to spend much time in the U.K. I’ll put Lytham Hall on our list for 2016! Many thanks, Robin.

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