The original Lydiate Hall was built by Laurence Ireland sometime in the 1500s. He had exchanged his land at Garston (near Liverpool) for estates at Lydiate and Maghull. The original hall he built was a single range, possibly made of stone. He was also responsible for the construction of St Catherine’s Church, known locally as Lydiate Abbey (see here). By the late 1500s three timber wings had been added to form a quadrangle around a central courtyard. In this phase of its life the hall would have resembled the ones at Rufford and Speke. Earthwork evidence on the western side of the site indicates that this was probably a moated building.
In 1673 the Ireland family line reached its end and ownership was passed to Sir Charles Anderton of Lostock Hall near Bolton. He initially leased the building to tenants, but his son Sir Francis did come to occupy the hall in his retirement. A date stone with his initials F A 1741 can be seen on the stable building that houses the modern day tea rooms on nearby Lydiate Hall Farm.
In 1760 the hall passed to the Blundell family and once again it was leased out to tenants. Under the Blundell’s ownership the hall was extensively remodeled. The original stone east wing was destroyed, as were parts of the later timber frame sections . A brick rebuild of the north side of the hall occurred around this time and some of what we see today probably dates from then.
As the hall entered the late 1800s it began to suffer from serious decay, despite some effort at improvement and repairs towards the end of the century . By the 1940s it was described as ‘fallen into complete ruin‘. In 1957 the Blundell family passed ownership to the Lever Estate and plans were put in place to save what remained. The ruins were stabilized and made safe and are now classed as a Grade II listed.
The landscape around the hall is now being more actively managed. For example, the geometrical pattern of lime trees in Crow Orchard to the west of hall has had missing trees replanted and the undergrowth cleared back. The hall is currently under the management of the Leverhulme Trust along with the present tenant farmer of Lydiate Hall Farm. Today it’s part of the tourist attraction that includes Lydiate Hall Farm tea rooms (The Hayloft Tea Shoppe). The grounds also contain a popular farm shop. Visitors to the site can enjoy the company of the ducks from the nearby pond, and also more unusually, they can marvel at the huge number of peacocks who roam freely.
On visiting the ruin today, you will find that interpreting the site is a little tricky as you navigate the remains and the vegetation that covers much of the ground and some of the walls. The most easily picked out of the features are the large old fire places and chimney stacks. These are very old, dating from the Tudor period of the hall. The stone fire place of the Great Hall is particularly imposing, and can easily be found. Sizeable portions of the building constructed from brick and stone still remain. It is obvious that quite a lot of the brick work and windows are much later in the hall’s history, although some of the surrounding stonework appears to be early. The ivy and other climbing plants give the site a very picturesque feel. A path travels around one side of the hall and there are walks into the surrounding countryside.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2016
Access Parking is in the car park at Lydiate Hall Farm, for their tea rooms and farm shop. The ruin forms part of the tourist attraction, and is located just a few metres from the car park. Look for the wooden sign saying “Leverhulme Estate – Lydiate Hall and Wood” and a kissing gate into the woodland.
Nearby, just a short walk away Lydiate Abbey ruins
A drive away is Rufford Old Hall
On Site Interpretation Boards were used in the writing of this blog. They are fast becoming history themselves as the vegetation and sunlight start to destroy them.
Historic England Pastscape website www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=39010
Historic England website http://www.heritage-explorer.co.uk/web/he/searchdetail.aspx?id=9006&crit=eleanor
Lydiate Parish Council website www.lydiateparishcouncil.gov.uk/history-of-lydiate/