The Georgian Hall
Lytham Hall has a colourful past and an interesting history dating back to the 12th century.
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Main Entrance Hall
The North Entrance was generally used by the family on a day to day basis, leaving the Main Front Entrance for welcoming distinguished guests. The huge oil painting depicts Cardinal Wolsey on his visit to Leicester Abbey. He was very weak and died hours later. This was just as well, because Henry VIII was waiting for him to return to London, with the intention of executing him. The Cardinal was against granting Henry a divorce, which became the catalyst for the dissolution. This large work of art was painted by Richard Westall. Other paintings include Eleanora Clifton painted by Charles Jarvis - circa 1696, and the Edwardian painting of Squire John Talbot Clifton by Frank Copnall.
This room was used as the family sitting-room. Family rooms were usually on the north and east sides, with the formal rooms on the south and west to take advantage of brighter light.
The fireplace, as those in all of the main rooms, was probably designed and made by Daniel Shillito of Wakefield, a craftsman often used by John Carr. On the east wall there are two dummy windows only visible on the outside to maintain the symmetry, whilst retaining space inside to hang paintings. The chandelier, or electrolier, is crystal and dates from the time of William IV, 1830-37. The china cabinet in the corner of the room contains all that remains of the Clifton collection of glass and chinaware. The main part of the collection was sold by the last Squire, Harry.
This room was used for formal entertaining. The Cliftons would entertain their special guests in sheer opulence. The chimney glass and pier glass frames along with the console tables are original designs by Gillows of Lancaster. These date around the 1790s, when the Gold Room was re-modelled. The narrow hand-painted wallpaper panels also date from that period. The larger green and gold wallpaper panels were restored by Guardian Royal Exchange as part of their refurbishment of the Hall in the 1960s/70s, but were reproduced according to the original design. The low-relief plasterwork in the style of Robert Adam, and possibly carried out by the younger Joseph Rose of York, is lighter and more delicate than that in the Entrance Hall. The crystal chandelier is possibly Waterford and dates back to the 18th century. This was converted to electric around 1900. This room is now licensed for weddings, and can also be hired for private functions and events.
The Gillow Room
Like the Gold Room, the dining room was the subject of re-modelling in the 1790s, but here the change was more radical, as the semi-circular apse containing the servery was added, being converted from a previous corridor.
The servery was designed and made by Gillows of Lancaster, but whilst the original slender legs were retained at the back, the front ones were replaced by Gillows a few years later in a much heavier, more ornate style. Gillows also designed the huge curtain rail, no doubt to take the weight of some very heavy curtains. The plasterwork is of the delicate style favoured by Robert Adam and the ceiling was possibly created by the younger Joseph Rose of York. John Talbot and Violet no longer favoured the long table as it is now, preferring a number of smaller tables. When electricity was installed, they had sockets placed in the floor for individual lamps at each table. In 1935 Evelyn Waugh visited Lytham Hall and was entertained by the Cliftons. He wrote how they were all sitting at separate tables and how they were all tearing mad! It is believed some of his inspiration when he wrote his novel, Brideshead Revisited, was taken from the Clifton family
In early 18th century houses, the grandest rooms were on the first floor, the piano nobile, accessed either by an external staircase, or by an appropriately grand internal staircase, whilst the service rooms were on the ground floor. The wooden cantilever staircase is supported solely by the weight of the outer walls.
The plasterwork is as ornate as in the entrance hall and again designed by Giuseppe Cortese. Thomas Clifton was no doubt flattered by Cortese's suggestion that a relief of Jupiter, the King of the Gods, in the centre of the ceiling was a suitable motif for the most powerful man in the Fylde. The decorations within the principal panels on the staircase walls depict hunting, shooting, fishing and the liberal arts of music and theatre, reflecting the pursuits of wealthy landowners. In 1910 John Talbot had the scrolled ends of the banisters removed so the pipes of an Auriole Organ, which stood in the main hall, could be fitted on either side of the staircase. The organ was removed and sold in the 1920s.
This room was an extension, designed and built in the 1880s by John Talbot Clifton, at a time when billiards was becoming popular, and is designed in the Arts and Crafts style of the time.
The stained glass windows were put in to conceal the servants in the courtyard below. The table was made in oak by Burroughes & Watts. An inventory from 1913 shows a total of 26 ash cues; both ivory and Bonzoline billiard balls and also pool balls, together with a combination marking board for pool and billiards. Harry Clifton apparently did not like billiards, but was encouraged to play by his father, John Talbot, who competed avidly and scolded Harry both for winning and for not winning. In December 1933 Harry gave the table to the local Conservative Club who used it for snooker until 2003. It was returned to the Hall after the Club's refurbishment.
This was John Talbot and Violet Clifton's bedroom from 1908. The furnishings are typically late Victorian and Edwardian which represents the style of John & Violet's younger years. The embroidered headboard is in the style of Jacobean Crewel work. The patchwork quilt is made of cross-stitch panels designed and created by pupils at Hall Park Primary School in 1990.
The fireplace also displays the Hand and Dagger crest of the Clifton family. When the Hall was built and before the woodland was developed, the view would have encompassed all the land from the Hall to the sea, including the seashore which was part of their estate. This view was protected by a Clifton covenant which forbade any building on land between the Hall and the sea, which included Lowther Gardens and Lytham Cricket Club. The sketch on the wall shows Cupid shooting an arrow through the heart of John Talbot Clifton. This represents how Violet stole his heart. They went on to have five children, Harry, Easter Daffodil, Avia, Aurea and Michael. Harry, or to give him his correct title, Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton was the last squire to inherit the estate and dissipated the family wealth.
In Elizabethan and Jacobean times many great houses had a Long Gallery, which was used by ladies as an indoor recreation area, and was also an area where they could take exercise in poor weather. When the Georgian house was built, the family would no longer have entered the old house, by then the servants' quarters, except to pass through the Long Gallery to reach the Chapel which was situated at the western end. In times of war, all large country houses were expected to play their part in helping out the nation where possible. In 1940 the Hall was requisitioned for military use and was converted into a convalescent home for all ranks. As part of the men's recovery, they helped in the gardens and had physical training in the grounds. The Long Gallery was used as a ward lined with beds, and evidence of this remains in the shape of a toilet base on the floorboards and a blocked up soil pipe through the wall.
Please note this room is under restoration at the moment.
Hetty Clifton's Bedroom
Hetty was the daughter of Pellegrine Treves, Post Master General of Calcutta. Hetty married Squire Thomas Joseph Clifton (1788-1851).
This was Hetty Clifton’s favourite room at Lytham Hall. She spoke of the four windows letting in lots of natural light without the direct sunlight. She also referred to the room being blue and how it was her favourite colour. This room once housed a half tester bed like the one you can see on display. This bed was purchased and donated by the Queendeans Association in 2017 to help with our representation.
Violet'S Dining Room
Once used as a bedroom, Violet transformed this room into her private dining room. It is close to the back stairs which lead to the kitchen.
Violet Clifton was the last person to live here at Lytham Hall. Her eldest son inherited after her husband's death in 1928. He squandered the family wealth and spent most of his time in London. As Violet grew older, getting about the large Hall grew more difficult for her. She made an apartment on this floor, now known as Violet's Boudoir. She would walk across the landing to this room where she would be served breakfast, lunch and dinner, occasionally with a few guests. This enabled her to avoid the stairs, as well as reduce the heating costs.
Violet Clifton's Boudoir
This room was originally the master bedroom of the house. Violet Clifton turned it into her personal apartment, even sleeping in the left hand closet and transforming a bedroom across the landing into her private dining room.
In John Carr's plan this was the master bedroom of the house, with the bed situated between the pillars which then formed the bed chamber. The window you see in the bed chamber will originally have been covered over, giving the impression of a solid wall. There were two matching wig/powder closets, one of which was converted in 1937 to an Art Deco bathroom by Harry's American actress wife, Lillian Griswold.
In the 1950s, this room was made into Violet's self contained suite. With mounting debts, less staff, and, to cut costs, it was easier and more efficient for Violet to use only a small part of the Hall.
Thomas Clifton commissioned John Carr of York in 1752 to design him a palladian mansion fit for a wealthy Squire. At the time, George II was on the throne, but by the time the house was finished in 1764, George III had replaced his father as Monarch, along with his wife Queen Charlotte.
This bedroom is dressed typically of the period and its understated elegance.
The larger panelled room is a strange feature in a grand Georgian mansion. The panels date back to at least the Jacobean times and were probably part of the original Lytham Hall.
Did Thomas Clifton want to save a small part of the old family seat before he demolished most of it? Who knows.
This bedroom was the preferred choice of the Duke of Norfolk when he stayed at the Hall. He was very friendly with John Talbot and Violet . John Talbot would often bring the Duke back some strange souvenirs from his travels and expeditions. He once gifted him a full size stuffed brown bear, which was one of two that he personally shot. He sent the other one to Lytham Hall which stood in the North entrance until the late 1930s. The large four poster bed was acquired in 2018 to dress the room in the Jacobean style. It is said the bed was used on the set of the TV series, Poldark, before finding its way to Lytham.
Upon becoming Squire in 1832, Thomas Joseph Clifton (1788-1851) went on a spending spree purchasing and commissioning many new items of furniture and décor. Records in the Hall’s archives list the inventory of items—including a black ebonised bed with gold detail, numerous large pieces of oriental pottery and colourful fabrics.
The site of the Chinese bedroom is often referred to in archive material throughout the eras, right up until the mid-twentieth century. Guests who stayed at the Hall in the 1950s whilst working at nearby Salwick, made reference to the Chinese Bedroom in their letters.