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Ghost Garden boosts visits to stately home

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An East Lancashire stately home found itself making headlines across the world after a ‘ghost garden’ reappeared after more than 70 years.

Gawthorpe Hall, known as the Downton of the North, was featured by news outlets from as far afield as Australia, America, Canada, Germany, Holland, Italy and Japan, as well as being extensively reported by the media in the UK, thanks to the reappearance of its lost garden.

It sparked a huge influx of visitors keen to see the gardens at the Jacobean hall in Padiham, which were redesigned in the 1850s by Sir Charles Barry, who is famous for his work on the Houses of Parliament.

The ‘ghost garden’ was created during the hot weather, as various types of soil dried at different rates. This caused the layout of the Italianate style south parterre garden at the front of Gawthorpe Hall to show through the current lawn, displaying the old garden layout.

Sir Charles redesigned the garden at the front and back of the hall. The garden at the back is smaller and still in place, but the front one became too onerous to maintain after the Second World War, and was removed in 1946.

Gawthorpe Hall is run by Lancashire County Council’s museum service, on behalf of the National Trust.

Rachel Pollitt, Gawthorpe Hall manager, said: “It was brilliant to see Gawthorpe Hall being featured on so many different TV channels, newspapers, radio stations and websites.

“We had so many people coming along just to see the ghost garden while it lasted. It could be another 70 years before it is seen again, so people wanted to take the opportunity and have a great day out at the same time.

“Jools Holland was spotted taking a look at the ghost garden. He was performing nearby and took some time out to admire the rare feature.

“It was great as well that many local people didn’t know that the garden had originally been there and a lot of them came to take a look as well.

“We have lots interesting things here for people to see, so we really hope that people will come back and visit again, as well as spreading the word about what a historic jewel the hall is.”

County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “Interest on social media from all over the world has been incredible. The ghost garden has also appeared on TV, and been featured in newspapers and magazines globally.

“I’m delighted that that there was such keen interest in seeing something that we have never seen before, and that we would normally only be able to view by looking at the original Victorian plans kept at Lancashire Archives in Preston, or the photographs on show in the hall.

“The garden is fading fast now, but I hope that people either go back to the hall, or visit it for the first time to see all the wonderful history that is on display there.”

The stately home holds the North West’s largest collection of portraits and collections of intricate lace, embroidery and needle work.

Visitors to the Hall will also be able to enjoy all of the regular attractions, such as the fabulous seventeenth-century plasterwork and panelling, the Victorian tiles, luxurious textiles and the stunning Long Gallery.

An exhibition on display until Sunday 4 November highlights how the First World War affected the owners of Gawthorpe Hall and other people living in the area. Personal archives from the Kay-Shuttleworth family are also on display for the first time in the exhibition.

Entrance to the garden and grounds of Gawthorpe Hall is free. Normal admission price to Gawthorpe Hall is £6 for adults and £4 for concessions. National Trust members and children go free.

For more information telephone 01282 771004 or email gawthorpehall@lancashire.gov.uk

Normal opening times are 12pm to 5pm Wednesdays to Sundays, with last entry to the hall at 4.30pm. The museum is open on Bank Holidays.

To find out more about Gawthorpe Hall and other Lancashire County Council museums visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums

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