If culture and heritage are you thing, why not combine your stay in North Lancashire with a day trip from Lancaster House Hotel to Leighton Hall?
Set within the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Carnforth, the history of the hall goes back nearly 800 years and there is plenty to explore. Our receptionist Carolyn paid a visit on a ‘big day out’:
I’d always thought Leighton Hall with its gardens, tearooms and activities would be well worth a visit, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Nestled in wide expanses of picturesque rural land, the history of the hall goes back to 1246 but the welcome and tour of the beautiful manor is by no means dated.
The hall is still home to the current owners, Lucy Gillow Arthurs and Daniel Arthurs, whose ancestors have lived there across many generations. They have been kind enough to open their home to the public to share their history and vast collection of art and furniture.
From the warm welcome at the gate, the customer friendly tour of the hall and its grounds and the delicious home-made cakes and drinks in the café, we immediately felt relaxed.
Unlike so many other country estates and rural houses open to the public, Leighton Hall has ‘no ropes or boundaries’ in it rooms. Guests are encouraged to sit down in the Gillow dining chairs and to feel the quality of the bird’s eye maple wood in the bedroom furniture of Lady Reynold’s bedroom.
The tour starts in the grand entrance hall, and you immediately see the magical ‘flying staircase’ beneath which nestles a beautiful Daisy table. The guide tells the history of some of the paintings and the clock displayed here and talks about the mystery of the Daisy table.
The tour talk was delivered in a friendly, chatty manner and we had the opportunity to ask questions as we went along.
There’s plenty of time too to admire the antique pieces of furniture positioned around the rooms, with explanations as to whence some of the pieces were sourced, or what they were used for.
Drawers and cupboards doors are opened to reveal the insides of many curious pieces collected over many years. Many are Gillow manufactured but there are some contrasting French pieces showing marked differences in their design.
Some were highly practical in their use and would have been used on a daily basis. Others were used to house intriguing collections that family members acquired on their travels and showed off to visitors in days gone by.
In the music room, we were encouraged to relax and take a seat whilst discovering the history of the room and renowned performers who have entertained the family and their guests in the past. The cosy drawing room and its bay window extension allow for a moment to enjoy the countryside views too.
A visit upstairs to the principal bedroom of Sir James and Lady Reynolds reveals a very different style of furniture which was not made by the Gillows. The highly ornate bed, matching wardrobes and drawers give a contrasting vibe to the furnishings of other rooms.
There is small, intimate chapel in the hall where the family used to go to pray and attend services in the privacy of their own home.
We also got a peek at the servants’ quarters downstairs: seeing all the bells to summon staff to the many different rooms around the house was quite an eye opener. Learning each bell’s individual tone to respond to the correct room must have been a nightmare.
Following the very informative and entertaining tour of the hall, we were treated to a highly skilled falconry display. The recall demonstrated by one of the birds would make any dog owner envious, instantly responding to the trainer and returning to the ground on command.
Our day was brought to a satisfying conclusion with a trip to the tearooms where you can enjoy a drink and snack on the homemade cakes, either sitting inside or outside in the sheltered courtyard area.
The hall also has a lot to offer children with its Teddy Bear Hunt competition in the summer, a play area and a maze. There’s a trail to find tree faces, an area to indulge in brass rubbings, an insect hotel and bee corner too, or you and your family can simply take a gentle stroll through the beautiful woodland area or take some time to admire the walled garden.
For further information or to organise a visit during your stay at Lancaster House Hotel, go to www.leightonhall.co.uk