Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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Jul 2010

Tue 20 Jul 2010
Visit ot Bank Hall, Bretherton.

Heavy rain didn’t deter members of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society from a conducted tour of Bank Hall and the grounds. The tour was conducted by Lionel Taylor of the Bank Hall Group who gave us a journey through time to explain the hall’s history and also their plans for the future. The main unexpected bonus was the tour of the extensive grounds and its many plant and trees. Probably the most fascinating was Lancashire’s oldest yew which dates back to about 1580. There are a total of 100 yews in the grounds. Another gem was the remaining mechanism of the clock which was originally housed in the clock tower. The cogs and wheels were manufactured by John Alker during the 1831 restoration. After the tour our secretary, Peter Robinson, presented a £250 cheque to Lionel for the ‘Moment in Time’ project which will restore the roman numerals on the Hall’s Clock face. So our society will have funded the numeral II. BH.

Lionel Taylor

The following text was supplied by our  secretary Peter Robinson
Visit to Bank Hall, Bretherton
As a result of Bank Hall Action Group’s (BHAG) visit to the society in June the society took up their offer of a guided visit of the hall.
It took place on the very wet evening of Tuesday 20 July. Despite the heavy rain 16 sensibly dressed members and friends made the short journey over to Bretherton. Lionel Taylor, Secretary of BHAG, was there to meet everyone and was helped along the way by Graham, a fellow BHAG member.
For safety and security reasons Bank Hall, or what remains of it, is cordoned off by a high wire perimeter fence and Lionel started his 2 hour guided tour from its north side. What exists now includes its four walls and much of the imposing but precarious looking clock tower.
Lionel pointed out particular aspects of the hall’s structure and explained it was built in 1608 but underwent a restoration in 1832. As mentioned in June plans are before Chorley Borough Council to restore Bank Hall. They include provision for private apartments and also public access. The estimated cost of this restoration is set at £6m, which gives an idea of the scale of work that is required.
His guided tour also included a walk around the grounds of Bank Hall, in particular the woodland area. Voluntary work in the grounds continues to be done by BHAG members, which aims to restore the grounds to something like their best. Several particularly interesting tree species include the oldest yew in Lancashire. It is dated to be older than Bank Hall itself at around the late 1500’s. Another tree is the coast redwood, native to north America, and is one of only 2 in Britain. This one is unusual by the fact the original tree fell to the ground years ago and now a line of ‘new’ trees rise from its trunk.
Not surprisingly there is an abundance of bird life and Graham described the various species found there that included tree creepers, sparrow hawks, tawny and barn owls.
The evening concluded with the society presenting Lionel with a cheque for £250 towards BHAG’s ‘Moment in Time Project’. This donation will go towards the restoration of the clock from the tower. Lionel, in turn, presented the society with a certificate to say the roman numeral II on the clock face was as a result of our donation.
So thanks to both Lionel and Graham for giving us such an interesting insight into the colourful history and stories of Bank Hall. As the darkness rapidly closed in we left Bank Hall to its thoroughly wet ghosts.

P Robinson.

This evenings gloomy view of Bank Hall in the rain

Bank Hall in 1977

Trying to get some shelter under Lancashire's oldest Yew tree.

Yew is the wood of choice for longbow making. Longbows have been used for hunting and warfare. A famous example being the English longbow during the Middle Ages. The bows are constructed so that the heartwood of yew is on the inside of the bow while the sapwood is on the outside. This takes advantage of the natural properties of yew wood since the heartwood resists compression while the sapwood resists stretching.

our 'Moment in Time' certificate to acknowledge £250 towards the numeral II

Bank Hall c1860 (see 2010 view below)

a delightful view of Bank Hall
painted by Eric Vickers in 2002

the garden wall, which was originally heated!

Stormy skies over Bank Hall

The remaining clock mechanism from 1832