by Carol Anne Strange, 1997
Reproduced for reference only. All
rights reserved © Carol Anne Strange
of England's historic buildings have been lost to neglect and sorry
abandonment. Baronial mansions, some hundreds of years old are left
to crumble away, and only when they are gone do people realise that
their heritage has disappeared forever. In Lancashire, yet another
historic building is under threat but local people are determined
that Bank Hall of Bretherton won't suffer the same fate.
As you turn the corner of Eyes Lane, past the Bretherton Village
memorial cross, you may be forgiven for believing you had left this
century. Walking on down Carriage Drive, this impression of being
in a time-warp grows stronger. For a moment, one can imagine the
sound of horses' hooves beckoning the arrival of the Banastre family
as they return from the hunt to their ancestral Bank Hall and on
a breezy day when the trees croak and leaves rustle, you can't help
but look over your shoulder half-expecting to see a ghostly apparition.
There is indeed a certain atmosphere about this place which sends
a shiver of anticipation flooding through your veins but as you
reach the end of the tree-lined drive, you are met by the sight
of the all too familiar 20th century neglect which hurtles you back
to the present with overwhelming speed. Bank Hall, almost cloaked
by the surrounding greenery of once beautiful gardens stands partially
ruined, now but a sad shadow of its former glory. The resplendent
clock tower still prevails, though precariously, and much of the
building and roof remains with its distinctive chimney pots and
Jacobean-style architecture, but each year sees it crumble a little
Though dating back to the 13th century, Bank Hall has not been as
fortunate as neighbouring Rufford Old Hall and yet in its heyday,
this Bretherton mansion was as grand as any other. Set in acres
of illustrious countryside, hidden in a quiet copse flanked by the
River Douglas on the edge of West Lancashire, the passing traffic
on the busy A59 remains totally oblivious to its existence except
for a glimpse of its tower peeking over the tree tops in winter.
It was first occupied by the Banastre family who can be traced back
to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. In the 17th century, the hall
passed to the Fleetwood family and then on to the Keeks before finally
resting with the Lilfords who are the current trustees of the estate
today. During World War Two, Bank Hall was used as a hospital camp
and played a significant part in the war efforts. Also in this century,
it became a popular location for the Hammer House of Horror films.
Without a doubt, Bank hall is rich in local history and yet sadly
this seems not enough to safeguard its future.
Residents of Bretherton, who have previously celebrated the title
of "Best Small Village", are only too aware of the hall's
abandonment and, together with a growing number of interested people
from surrounding areas, have joined forces with the aim of seeing
Bank Hall saved and preserved for the benefit of future generations.
The Bank Hall Action Group established in the summer of 1995 and
a feasibility study was completed in November, 1996, through the
Lancashire Heritage Trust which will ascertain what can be done
to save the hall, but time is running out. England's unpredictable
weather continues to eat away at the structure and funds need to
be found to protect the tower and the rest of the building from
Ideally, the Group would like to see Bank Hall restored to its original
eminence and opened to the public but would welcome any one who
has the finance and ideas to make the hall grand again. Supporters
believe it would make a perfect conference centre, museum, visitor
centre or residential home and they would welcome any practical
Johnson, a resident of the village for over forty years and a member
of the Bank Hall Action Group, believes it is time that something
was done to stop the rot.
He said "It is sickening to see this gracious hall fall to
ruin and it's shameful that nothing has been done to halt its demise
during the latter part of this century. With support from a commercial
enterprise, Bank hall could regain much of its beauty and splendour
with sympathetic restoration"
"We are awaiting to hear about funding applications which will
ascertain Bank Hall's future," Gordon continued, "but
judging by the accelerated demise, something needs to be done quickly
before its too late."
Bretherton Village derives from the word "Brotherton"
which is thought to mean joint ownership with reference to Bank
Manor and the adjoining lands once held buy the Banastre brothers
of the 11th and 12th century. The village also boasts a fine windmill
as a reminder of the once thriving corn trade and, perhaps more
renowned is Carr House where lodger, Jeremiah Horrocks, recorded
the "Transit of Venus" in 1639. This placed Bretherton
on the map and into the astronomical history books. You can still
get an unprecedented view of the stars as you journey through the
village on a clear night.
But, it is Bank hall which takes centre stage and even now, with
its fading exterior standing like a ghostly shell of its original
splendour, there is still character in the place crying out for
attention. And, whether you love old buildings or not, you can't
help but be drawn to the hall such is its power of attraction and
If you happen to be passing through Bretherton and are fortunate
to stumble across Bank Hall, do not be surprised if you feel out
of time. Like all old houses, it too has its ghosts, and as you
walk along Carriage Drive you can't help but wonder what century
you might find yourself in as you turn the corner.
on this site, more on Bank Hall:
of Bank Hall, Bretherton
Baines History of Lancashire "Croston"
Banister of Bank Genealogy
Tarleton Church and Wesleyan Chapel
- Atticus 1872
Extracts from Southport & District
by Rev. W. T. Bulpit, 1908
Friends of Bank Hall
Go Back to Hesketh
Bank & Tarleton Local History
1. Henry Taylor, Old Halls in Lancashire and Cheshire (1884)
2. Philips, Views of Old Halls of Lancs and Cheshire (1893)
3. Alfred Rimmer, Ancient Halls of Lancs (1852)
4. ??? Ghost and haunted places in Britain??
5. F.H. Cheetham, Lancashire, (1920)
6. F.A. Bruton, Lancashire (1921)
7. J. Harland and T. Wilkinson, Lancashire Legends (1873)
8. Lancashire Magazine, The Ridings Publishing Company Ltd