Gracious Leighton Hall - a Lancashire Gem ...

by Zoe Dawes /
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Jul 02, 2010 / 0 comments

Leighton Hall 

"It's one of the loveliest houses I've ever visited. Mrs Reynolds makes you feel so welcome and it really does feel like a family home."  This was the verdict of a very well-travelled visitor to Leighton Hall, a large privately owned 18th Century house, for many years home to the Gillow family of furniture fame. It's beautifully situated on the Lancashire/Cumbria border, open to the public throughout the summer. 

Staircase & Entrance HallI couldn't agree more.  Prior to joining the house tour, I had talked to Mrs Reynolds about running a 21st century tourist attraction which also happens to be a family home. "I simply love the house. It's a privilege to be able to share it with our visitors and when they say they like something, for example, a chair or a painting, it's such a thrill." When asked to describe the house she said it was a "gentle, benign place ... set in its saucer of green." Her passion for this house is conveyed very strongly throughout the tour. 

As you drive through the gates you get a first glimpse of this delightful place, nestling in its green valley with the most breathtaking views across to the Lake District fells and Morecambe Bay glinting in the distance. There's been a house on this site since the 13th Century; the Reynolds family can trace their lineage back to the original owners. This building and its gardens date from the mid 1700s and it has not been added to since Victorian Gillows added the impressive facade and new wings.

Aerial View Leighton Hall

In spite of its mock-gothic facade, what strikes you straight away is how unstuffy it is here. One of the greatest treats is to be able to sit on the 18th Century Gillow chairs at the beautiful and ingenious telescopic dining table. 

The Gillow Dining Room

In so many places you are told 'Do Not touch, Do Not sit on the chairs, Keep Off the grass ...' Here it's just the opposite, well-illustrated at the end of our tour where visitors are encouraged to play the Rosewood Concert Steinway grand piano. "We're not a musical family, so the piano doesn't get much attention! If there's anyone here who can play, please do ..."  Clock, paintings & flower display


As well showing us a treasure trove of quality furniture, clocks, paintings and family objets d'art, Mrs Reynolds told us stories of her husband's family, descended from Sir Thomas Moore. My favourite was the Victorian Great Aunt who was so horrified by a naked little boy shown in a painting that she got out her paintbox and painted a decent little coat on him. It was only when Mr Reynold's parents sent the picture off for cleaning that the over-sensitive aunt's art-work was uncovered!


After lunch I sat out in the beautiful walled garden with its little caterpillar maze, a perfect adventure for curious young ones. In the background I could hear Mrs Reynolds' grandson squealing with excitement at some game he was playing. There was the occasional squawk from the hawks, owls & other birds of prey in preparation for their demonstration flight later that afternoon.

House & roses 

From an open window came the sound of the piano being played - someone was enjoying themselves there. The warm summer sun released the scent of huge swags of white roses clinging perilously to ancient walls, bees hummed happily in their quest for the best nectar and visitors strolled around the grounds, having been encouraged to "Please walk on the grass and enjoy this lovely afternoon." We certainly did ...

For a perfect day out for all ages, visit Leighton Hall and discover one the of friendliest, most welcoming family homes in the north of England.  For more information and to check out upcoming events at the Hall see

If you would like your very own personal tour of the area, including Leighton Hall and other special places, get in touch with me, Zoe Dawes at