We recently had a run out to this quaint little hall, Samlesbury Hall, which is situated near to Preston in Lancashire. It was quite a gloomy, damp day and we needed to get out of the house. It turned out to be a well-made decision and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
Samlesbury Hall is easy to find, off the M6 at Preston and then just along the A59 on Preston New Road. I like it when the directions are easy!
The hall was built in 1325 by Gilbert de Southworth and was the main home of the Southwell family until the early 17th century. According the historical facts it may have been built earlier to replace a hall that was destroyed in a raid by the Scots in 1322. The hall has had many uses over the years including a public house and girl’s boarding school. In 1925 it was saved from demolition for its timber and was the registered a charitable trust – The Salmesbury Hall Trust. It is a grade I listed medieval manor house and it attracts more than 50,000 visitors yearly. The hall is open daily, but not on Saturdays.
As I mentioned it is a charitable trust, so free to enter for all. Donations are very welcome though 😊 It is indeed well worth a visit for all the family with lots of interesting rooms to explore and things to see. In scale it is not a very large hall, but there’s a lot packed into it – quality not quantity!
There are free tours of the hall on Sundays by Henry VIII from 11 a,m, to 2 p.m. Also tours with Witch Janey and the Ghost of Goodwife Agnes are available if you’re feeling brave. The hall is reputably haunted by Lady Dorothy who is said to be looking for a lost lover. People have also experienced strange things in certain parts of the hall such as voices late at night, doors opening and the feeling of your hair being stroked from behind ….
On a lighter note Salmesbury Hall hosts a fantastic Wedding venue and has regular open evenings the next one being in January. There is also accommodation to stay in via the Plankbridge Shepherd’s Huts which sleep up to four people with all modern amenities.
You can also sit outside and enjoy the firepit whilst having an outdoor supper, Children can also explore the adventure trail and Mayflower playground, or even have a go at the mini golf course. There is also a small holding with a few animals that can keep the little ones (and older ones) entertained too.
Also, for a luxury stay at Salmesbury Hall you can stay in the Gatehouse. This provides the experience of a double bedroom, dressing room with full length mirrors a bathroom with double shower and a slipper bath.
Back to the hall itself which has many rooms to explore including large reception rooms; a chapel; Victorian kitchen; late 19th century Victorian school; 1930’s/40’s room and the Great Hall itself with a remarkable centrepiece chandelier. The hall also has a Priest Room which has a hiding hole for Catholic priests. This was a refuge set up by the Southworth family, offering refuge for travelling priests in the 1500’s. At this time there was a lot of anti-catholic sentiment in much of England. Unfortunately, soldiers followed a priest to the hall and found him in hiding in this room and he was beheaded. Legend has it that the bloodstains could not be removed for centuries until the floorboards were replaced.
Apologies, I may have gone all doom and gloom again, but as you can see the hall has quite a colourful history. I haven’t gone into great detail about the hall’s history as it has a specific room with a timeline running around it, which makes for very fascinating reading if you were to visit here 😊
The hall also has a room where you can buy a sell antiques for a reasonable price. The furniture in particular looked of very good quality as well as various artwork and jewellery. It reminded me a bit of an antique shop in Ramsbottom but on a smaller scale.
After our tour of the hall we decided to pay a visit to the restaurant for a bite to eat as it looked very inviting. Daughter and I were hoping to try some of their famous waffles – they have a Dotties Wafflery on site as well! Unfortunately, they had just run out of batter mixture as we ordered. We were a bit disappointed as we had been looking forward to trying one. I had carrot cake instead which came in a very large portion and was very tasty (hubby obliged in helping to finish it).
On leaving the car park there is also the Salmesbury Hall Bee and Heritage Centre to visit. The centre provides information and education to all ages about the importance of bees to our environment and how to help, support and protect our bee population. The centre is open most Wednesdays and Sundays and staff are available to answer various questions about bee keeping and history. They also do regular talks about bee activity in general – fascinating!
There is also a shop where you can purchase their homemade honey which has various flavours depending on the flower the bee has pollinated. We bought the wild flower honey which was delicious with quite a perfumed after taste. Whilst in the shop we were tempted to ‘adopt a bee’ and were told this was more for children – a very good idea we thought as it helps raise awareness of our wildlife at an early age. We were tempted to give it a go, but bought the honey instead 😊
All this said it was a very interesting and informative afternoon spent on quite a gloomy day. If you’re in the area I can recommend a visit with your family. We will certainly be going back and hopefully be able to sample a waffle or two from Dotties Wafflery.