Perseverance is everything
12th December 2019
Bank Hall appeared in 1981 on the cover of SAVE’s Silent Mansions, written by Sophie Andreae, Catherine Griffiths and myself. Then it was a classic sleeping beauty, half enshrouded by ivy. Soon after a corner of the soaring tower fell in, leaving an open gash through which rained poured.
The appeal of the house lies in its playful Jacobean architecture with wavy gables and numerous finials and baubles crowning porch tower and gable tops. The silhouette is further enlivened by clusters of tall column-like chimneys. The house dated from 1608 but was enlarged in the early 1830s by the architect George Webster of Kendal, a master of the Jacobethan style.
I visited the house in 1991 when it featured as a Heap of the Week in The Times. Large numbers of pheasants were being reared in pens beside the decaying mansion. “The preservation of the shoot has evidently been a higher priority - and no doubt cheaper - for Lord Lilford than the ancestral seat he inherited” I wrote in high dudgeon.
Hope was kept alive by the admirable Bank Hall Action Group which ran a lively website http://www.bankhall.org.uk with a site map based on the board game Cluedo.
Janet Edwards chair of the Friends, says: “It has been a very long journey that started in 1995 but work is well underway to save the hall. Urban Splash were originally appointed to restore the hall but they had to pull out due to the economic down turn in the economy after 2008. After further delays a company headed up by Peter Wild and called The Next Big Thing Developments were appointed. In July 2017 work began."
Our pictures tell the story.
Now Bank Hall is becoming a shared dwelling space of 10 apartments and 2 larger dwelling spaces. Thanks to a £2.2 million of lottery grant there will be public access to the entrance hall, and rooms on the first and second floor plus the magnificent Prospect Tower. This will be run by the Friends of Bank Hall and the Heritage Trust of the North West.