Mecure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Mecure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa
    A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6 (1911)

    DUNKENHALGH HALL is situated at the southwest corner of the township on slightly rising ground above the Hyndburn Brook, which forms the boundary of the park on the west side. In 1799 Dr. Whitaker wrote: ‘The house of Dunkenhalgh, with the stables and offices, nearly surrounds a large quadrangle, with an arched and embattled gateway. From the style and appearance great part of the building must have been erected by Sir Thomas Walmesley, the judge, but the south and part of the west side are of much higher antiquity.’ In the following year, however, the greater part of the house, which seems to have been in a ruinous state, was pulled down and shortly afterwards rebuilt in the castellated Gothic style of the period, the present elevations dating from that time. There is therefore very little ancient work to be seen in the building, though no doubt much of the old walling was incorporated in the restored structure. The plan probably follows more or less that of the original house, which seems to have been of the usual type of central hall and projecting wings, but the internal arrangements and fittings are almost wholly modernized and the hall divided up. The building is of two stories, its principal front facing north, and is approached directly from the road between Clayton and Rishton through a gate-house and avenue of lime trees. The gate-house is apparently of 17th-century date, but has been restored and the south front to the house faced with cement. It is built of coursed ashlar blocks, and is of two stories with battlemented parapet and mullioned and transomed windows, one at each side of the opening of two lights, and two of three lights each, above. The gate-house is about 38 ft. in length and 18 ft. from front to back, the gateway, which has a semicircular arch, being 10 ft. wide. The elevation is similar on both sides, and is divided at about half its height by a string course. There is a projecting chimney at each end, and the roof is flat. Over the archway facing the road is a shield of six pieces, the first two of which, however, are obliterated, and on the south side facing the hall a blank panel.

    The north front of the hall, which is about 58 ft. in length with slightly projecting wings, is faced with coursed ashlar blocks and has mullioned and transomed windows, those to the recessed middle part being of wood, and the detail is all thin and poor. On the west or garden side, which is about 44 ft. long, the elevation is faced with cement, and has as its principal feature a garden entrance porch carried up in two octagonal turrets above the roof. The house proper lies to the north and west of a small irregular courtyard, which is inclosed on its east and south sides by stables and offices, and is entered from the east end of the north front by a modern Gothic archway, but so much rebuilding has been done about the house that it is impossible to say how much of the structure follows the original plan. The south wing, which contains the kitchen and offices, is slightly swung round to the east, suggesting a reconstruction of an older building. The house contains some oak panelling and fittings brought from Hacking Hall, Billington, and has a handsome oak staircase with square newels and turned balusters, apparently of early 18th-century date.

    In the garden on the south side is a rather elaborate undated facet-headed sundial, with cup-shaped dials on a circular stone pedestal, and further away on the same side a simpler dial, with plate but no gnomon, the square stone shaft of which bears the initials SMM and the date 1685. In another part of the gardens are a number of old stones, including fragments of the 17th-century house, a carved angel and shield panel taken from the gable of an old house in Billington, and two small stone corn-mills which were found in a sandpit at Rishton.