Dicconson Terrace, Lytham, Lancashire FY8 5JY
Tel: 01253 795229
This Grade 1
listed building is probably the finest Georgian house in the North
West. It was designed and built for Thomas Clifton by John Carr of
York between 1752-1764. Apart from Basildon in Berkshire, Carr
worked entirely in the North of England and always in the Palladian
style. His works include the Castle and Court complex in York,
Tabley House, Knutsford and the Royal Crescent in Buxton.
Unfortunately, none of Carr's plans, specifications or accounts for
Lytham has been found, but it is known that he incorporated parts of
the Jacobean house into the service quarters behind the new
three-storey main block. The design is unusual in that all the main
rooms are on the ground floor rather than the first.
The Hall itself is built mainly of red
brick, with stone dressings used for the windows and doors. An Ionic
portico links the first and second floors over the main (east)
entrance. The surmounting pediment originally carried the Clifton
coat of arms in stucco. The symmetrical proportions are typical of
the main rooms are very fine, with delicate Adamesque plasterwork
and the central staircase has a magnificent coffered ceiling with a
central relief of Jupiter hurling thunderbolts. There are 8 bedrooms
on the first floor, each with differently carved wooden chimney
pieces, and 9 plainer bedrooms on the second floor, one of which and
its dressing-room have panelling out of the earlier house, and are
reputed to be haunted by Sir Cuthbert. There has been little
alteration to the hall since it was built, apart from up-grading of
services over the years.
surrouding grounds are the remains of the inner Home Park and extend
to about 80 acres in all. Much is woodland but with grassed areas
and two large ponds. The open aspects are to parts of the
separately-sold Home Farm. The views are protected, and the whole
area has been listed.
the furnishings are some notable pieces. Pride of place goes to
a magnificent early Gillow servery, semicircular to fit the
domed alcove in the dining room, together with a set of dining
chairs after Chippendale, also likely to be early Gillow.
|Family paintings adorn the walls of
most rooms. They give an insight into how the Cliftons were
connected to other wealthy families. Perhaps the most
interesting is an oil-on-panel portrait of Sir Cuthbert Clifton
who purchased the manor in 1606.
Other buildings in the grounds are
Grade 2 listed: the Gatehouse (after Wren), a large stable block, a
huge dovecote with 850 nesting boxes, the inner gates, a statue of
Diana (currently in store) in what used to be a formal garden and a
screen wall running south from the west wing.
|Main lodge gate
||Statue of Diana
A Brief History of the Estate
1200 - 1764
Lytham is the 'Lidun' of the Domesday
Survey of 1086. By about 1200, the Manor had passed into the hands
of the See of Durham, housing a Prior, a few monks and their
servants in a small priory. At the dissolution of Durham in 1540,
the house and lands were taken over by the Crown and let to the
sitting tenant, a Thomas Dannet. By 1597, the Manor was in the hands
of Sir Richard Molyneux, who, in 1606, sold it on for £4,300 to
Cuthbert Clifton of Westby, a relative by marriage. He pulled down
most of the medieval buildings and constructed a substantial new
house in Jacobean style.
without difficulty and penalty, the Catholic Cliftons survived
the Civil War and the various rebellions. By the middle of the
18th century their estates in the Fylde were large, and they
were people of consequence in the county. It was a time of
improvement and re-building, and in 1752, the Squire, Thomas
Clifton, commissioned John Carr of York to plan and build a new
house, which took 12 years to complete.
1764 - 1963
For most of the next two centuries the
Cliftons and their Fylde estates prospered, especially during the
development of Lytham and Blackpool and the foundation of St
Annes-on-the-Sea. At its peak, the Estate comprised 8000 acres and
the Cliftons were one of the richest families in the country. They
spent little time in Lytham. Their great wealth allowed them to
travel widely, especially in the 19th century, and the Estate, which
was entailed, was administered by Trustees and managed by a series
of land agents.
1963 - 1997
this was to change with Henry (Harry) de Vere Clifton, who
dissipated his inheritance. The remnants of the Estate, some
2500 acres, including the Hall and its park, were bought by
Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance in the mid-sixties. Over 2000
houses have since been built in the Park, but the inner Park, of
about 80 acres, remains around the Hall itself. GRE have been
very good stewards, having restored and preserved the buildings
and latterly allowed restricted public access by arrangement.
When the Hall and its Park were
offered for sale in 1996, Lytham Town Trust, as a consequence of a
magnificent gift of about £1million from British Aerospace, was
able to acquire this important part of our heritage for the
Lytham Town Trust leased the Hall,
under a partnership agreement, to the Heritage Trust of the North
West in 1988 for a period of 99 years. HTNW aims to conserve the
historic status of the Hall and Parkland and develop and enhance the
site as a regional tourist attraction on the Fylde coast, with
public access for residents and visitors alike.
successful application has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund
for support for a large part of the work needed, and projects include:
- creation of a conference and
restaurant facility in the West Wing (completed)
- restoration of the south prospect gardens (work began in Spring 2014)
- refurbishment of the Hall (to commence Spring 2015)
- acquisition of the collection of furniture and paintings (still
belonging to the previous owner)
- development of a wildlife and country
park (being supported by Lancashire County Council)
- conversion of the stables to commercial units.
to TOP OF PAGE)
The Colourful Cliftons
Over the centuries the Clifton
family has played a full part in local and national affairs.
They took their name from the township of Clifton-with-Salwick,
between Lytham and Preston. From earliest times, Cliftons were
Knights of the Shire (MPs) and, in more recent times, the family
has possessed two Baronetcies, both of which died out. As
staunch Catholics in the turbulent post-reformation years there
was both triumph and tragedy, including sequestration and
subsequent restoration of its estates. The end came with the
dissipation of the entire family fortune by the last Squire,
Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton (Harry).
After a visit to Lytham Hall in
1935, the novelist Evelyn Waugh wrote in a letter to a friend -
"Very beautiful house by Kent or someone like him .... Adam
dining room .... all Cliftons are tearing mad .... all sitting
at separate tables at meals ". Great wealth had led to
eccentricity and finally to much worse.
Sir Cuthbert Clifton (1581-1634)
John Talbot Clifton
Clifton of Westby was the son of Thomas Clifton, a
registered recusant, who died when Cuthbert was only three
years old. His mother was a Southworth of Samlesbury,
another leading Catholic family. He negotiated the purchase
of the great estate at Lytham from his Molyneux relatives,
involving a transfer of Clifton lands south of the Ribble.
He got a good deal - 5,500 acres including a great park and
a fine manor house (which he re-built!). He can be regarded
as the founding father of the Cliftons of Lytham.
the age of 39 he married Violet Mary Beauclerk, whom he met in
Peru, and settled down to becoming Squire. He was a great
benefactor of both Lytham and St Annes, having laid the
foundation stone for the latter when aged seven. For some years
they lived more or less permanently at Lytham, entertaining
lavishly. He eventually bought Kildalton Castle on Islay in 1922
and used that as his main residence. He died in Dakar, having
surrendered to the wanderlust once more, and is buried on Islay.
was the second John Talbot, following his grandfather,
Colonel John Talbot. The name Talbot seems to have come into
the family when Catherine, the daughter of Thomas, the
builder of the present Hall, married John Talbot, brother of
the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury.
John Talbot was rather wild
during his youth, and his restlessness found an outlet in
travel and exploration. He made his first visit to America
when he was 22, and during this visit he had a lengthy
affair with Lillie Langtry, which came to light only in
1978. He spent much time living rough (but spending money)
in the Far North, extending his travels to Russia, Africa,
India and the Far East.
Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton (1907-1979)
inherited before his majority and was able to break the entail
on the Estate, and get at capital. He kept permanent suites at
the best hotels and became well-known as an eccentric, but he
plundered the Clifton estates to support his extravagant
life-style and wild schemes with complete and utter selfishness.
He managed to squander nearly £4 million in the run-up to
the final sale of the remnants of the 800-year-old ancestral
estates. His mother Violet was the last person to live at the
Hall, and when he died he was virtually penniless.
last Squire had a dash of Stuart blood in him, his mother
having descended from the liaison between Charles II and
Nell Gwyn, which may explain many things. He had an unhappy
childhood and seems to have ended up hating his father. He
was educated at Downside, Bonn, Grenoble and Oxford and had
pretentions to be a poet and scholar. He certainly knew the
novelist Evelyn Waugh, having possibly met him at Oxford,
who is thought to have used him as a model for his
Brideshead Revisited character, Sebastian Flyte.