Historic Lancashire Guide
by Ben Johnson
Welcome to Lancashire, home of the ultimate seaside resort, Blackpool! Blackpool has many attractions for the visitor: sandy beaches, the famous Tower and the Tower Ballroom, the pier and of course, the Blackpool Illuminations which take place every autumn.
Blackpool is not the only resort on this coast: situated just to the north is the quieter town of Morecambe, home to the newly restored Art-Deco classic, the Midland Hotel. Don’t leave the town without having your photo taken by the larger-than-life statue of the comedian Eric Morecambe on the central promenade!
Lancaster, the county town, is just three miles inland from Morecambe. Lancaster Castle sits in the centre of the city on the site of three successive Roman forts. The Crown Court here is the oldest working courtroom in Britain, and the castle also incorporates a prison. The Pendle witches were famously held and tried at Lancaster Castle in 1612. The Pendle Witches Trail is a series of walking and driving routes around Lancashire, visiting the sites associated with the witches from Pendle Hill to Lancaster itself.
Away from the coast, Lancashire boasts some lovely countryside. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the Lune and the Ribble Valleys, and the relatively undiscovered Forest of Bowland offers great scenery and lovely country pubs.
Lancashire is also rich in historic buildings and attractions. The Cistercian abbey ruins on the banks of the River Ribble at Sawley are maintained by English Heritage and are perfect for a picnic. Rufford Old Hall near Ormskirk is in the care of the National Trust. There is some evidence to suggest that Shakespeare may have performed in the grand Great Hall of this superb Tudor house before he became famous.
Situated between Blackburn and Preston, the beautiful black-and-white Samlesbury Hall was built in 1325 and is steeped in history. The Hall is open to visitors all year round – and is reputed to be haunted! Impressive Gawthorpe Hall is an Elizabethan gem in industrial Lancashire. Nicknamed the ‘Downton of the North’, Gawthorpe Hall was remodelled in the 1850s by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament and the ‘real’ Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle.