Samlesbury Hall is only a couple of miles away from Hoghton Tower and can easily be visited on the same day. It too is a palimpsest, though its architectural significance is completely different: the current volume of Pevsner describes it as “one of the outstanding Lancashire halls of the timber-framed variety”.
The chapel was licensed in 1420 and was probably built around that time; the hall is of a similar date, and the south range dates from around 1545, except for the west end which is 1862. Originally the home of the Southworth family, the hall was apparently an inn by the 1830s.
There are all sorts of fascinating details. The traceried window in the chapel, and presumably others, were imported from Whalley Abbey after the Dissolution.
The great hall had a movable screen like the one at Rufford Old Hall, and the bizarre carved finials were later incorporated in the minstrels’ gallery. The hall fireplace is Victorian, probably dating from 1845. The oriel at the dais end houses a magnificent Bechstein grand piano.
A frankly modern bridge leads visitors over to ancillary buildings in the courtyard.
The place was threatened with demolition in the 1920s and was bought by a group of Blackburn businessmen who established a Trust to preserve it for public enjoyment. As such, the building has to earn its keep.
Consequently, several rooms are given over to the sales-floor of an antiques emporium and there are regular exhibitions of art, ceramics, sculpture and jewellery. There is a wonderfully relaxed coffee-shop, stuffed with sofas, and a restaurant. You can hire the place for many kinds of events, from a funeral to a hog roast.
For the casual tourist the presentation experience is completely different to Hoghton. Visitors wander at will, guided by display panels which the lady greeter made no bones about declaring were incomplete.
Is it worth paying £3.00 admission to see? Most definitely. But I think I’d take exception to paying £3.00 for the privilege of buying antiques. Perhaps they knock the admission charge off the price of the chaise-longue or whatever.
I think they would in Yorkshire.
Card-carrying Friends of the Historic Houses Association are admitted free to Samlesbury Hall: see http://www.samlesburyhall.co.uk.