Saturday, 3 March 2012

Heysham Old Hall

SE face date unknown

This typical late 16th-century Elizabethan Manor is situated in Higher Heysham and is the oldest dwelling in the district of Heysham and Morecambe.  The building was constructed of dressed masonry in coursed blocks, and roofed with stone slates.  The front of this two-story house faces south east and originally stood well back from the road, from which it was separated by a well-kept garden and high fence wall.  The building has a central hall and projecting 19 ft. wide gabled wings on either side, with a porch going up the full height and terminating in a smaller gable within the angle formed by the west wing.
      The hall measures 18 ft. by 16 ft. 6 in. and is lighted on the south side by a window of six lights. The ceiling is crossed by two heavy moulded beams, and the fireplace opening, which has a four-centred arch, is 6 ft. 9 in. wide.  The west wing room was originally two rooms, the front being entered from the Hall, and the rear one of larger extent contained an enormous fireplace with an inscription.  One of the west wing’s ground floor rooms was oak-panelled. In the east wing was a small parlour in front, with kitchen and offices behind, the kitchen retaining its ancient fireplace opening 9 ft. wide, into which a modern range had been inserted. 
     All the windows are transomed and mullioned with diamond glazing, the Hall having six lights, the wings five.  The gables also contain low openings of three lights to the attics.  All the windows have external hood moulds.  The doorway has a low four-centred arched head under a square hood mould, and the gables have all stone finials.  In the apex of the east gable is a stone panel on which are carved what were probably the initials of the owner, now almost obliterated, but which look like P.E., R.E., together with a Tudor rose and the date 1598 set within a geometrical pattern possibly containing a lion rampant.  At one point the garden contained several fine terrace vases made of lead or soft pewter and said to be of Italian workmanship.
  The old manor house, Heysham hall, was built by senior and Robert Edmondson his son Robert Edmondson junior and was part of the Hornby Castle Estate.  The hall remained in the Edmondson family until the latter part of the 17th century.  It was then occupied by Sam Bailey of the 9th light dragoons.  In 1888 Reverend C. T. Royds, Rector of Heysham, who carried out much needed renovations.  These revealed a ‘priest hole’ and passage between the inner walls and under the floor.  A secret opening was found in the floor of the west wing: it communicated with the left chimney breast of the huge fireplace and also with the interior of a buttress outside the home.  This gave a hidden stairway up into the attics, and it also afforded entrance to an underground passage leading out into the grounds. This is now blocked.Heysham Old Hall, which has served as a farmhouse in the past, was sold to Mitchell Barker, a brewer from Lancaster, who remodelled the interior and converted the Hall into a hotel which opened in September 1958.  It is currently a public house.  

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