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Whilst some of us might fancy the idea of living in a stately home or castle, how would you feel about opening your family home to strangers on a regular basis, or what about the challenges of 21st Century living in a house built over 700 years ago? This is something faced by the families living in three of Lancashire’s historic houses.
Leighton Hall Ancestors of the Reynolds family have lived at Leighton Hall near Carnforth since 1246 and, from the 19th Century when it was owned by the famous furniture making Gillows, it has rather unusually being passed down through the female line. The family live in the whole house, all of the time, so the likelihood of bumping into one of them when you visit is quite high. As visitors often comment that “It’s so nice to see a house that’s actually lived in!” Being situated within Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is without doubt one of the privileges of living at Leighton Hall but as lady of the house Mrs Suzie Reynolds puts it “The challenge is keeping it all together – there always seems to be some urgent maintenance problem that needs doing that quickly eats up precious resources.”
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Built in 1507 by Edmund Parker within a former royal hunting ground (now the Forest of Bowland AONB) the Parker family have lived at Browsholme Hall for fourteen generations, and have been Bowbearers of the Forest of Bowland since the time of the Restoration. Despite the lack of central heating the family still live in the house and so whilst visitors see the grand entertaining rooms they also see some of the private living rooms including the beautiful Oak Drawing Room (created in 1700 by Grinling Gibbons, renowned for his work at Hampton Court and St Paul’s Cathedral.) As Robert Parker puts it “Browsholme Hall is not a museum, it’s a family home. From the cellar to the attics we occupy every room. Our visitors will see all the imperfections of any family home, yet its set within a unique historic context.”
Find out more about visiting Browsholme Hall
Sir Bernard De Hoghton is the 30th generation of this family to live at the site of Hoghton Tower near Preston. Built on the site of a Norman keep the grand property you see today dates largely back to the1560s. Hoghton Tower is perhaps most famous for the Knighting of Sir Loin in 1617 by James I, who’s visit, and no doubt extravagance, bankrupted the host in the process. Thankfully Sir Bernard doesn’t have to host royalty these days, and finds welcoming visitors in to his family home very natural, since he’s being doing it most of his life. He adds “The best things about living at Hoghton Tower have to be the excitement of living in history and the responsibility of safeguarding such a beautiful asset for future generations”.
Find out more about visiting Hoghton Tower