Out There: Samlesbury Hall charms on inside of building

Samlesbury Hall near Preston in the rain on Sunday.
Samlesbury Hall near Preston in the rain on Sunday.

When it comes to visiting historic houses I don’t seem to have much luck.

Every time I’ve visited one recently it has poured with rain.

So it was par for the course when I popped into Samlesbury Hall near Preston on Sunday and the heavens opened.

Thankfully many of Samlesbury Hall’s charms are on the inside of the grand building.

I was somewhat taken aback when a woman with boils on her face and black teeth welcomed me at the entrance.

It transpired that she was a tour guide and was simply in character as a bawdy wench.

My husband Sparky (Mark) would have run a mile from the costumed guide but luckily for him he was on his travels in France at the time.

Not only did the guide proclaim that she was a witch and had turned her husband into a rat before killing him, but she announced that she was looking for a new husband and asked male visitors to the hall to admire her rear end. Delightful.

She also explained that the hall was haunted by many ghosts and that we ought to watch out for them on our tour.

However, it didn’t put me off (despite being called a miserable Scot) and we enjoyed a fun tour of the fabulous hall.

The hall is just off the M6 on the road to Blackburn and I must have passed it more than 100 times before finally visiting. And I’m so glad I did.

Believed to have been built in the 300s, the hall has had many different owners over the centuries.

The Southwarth family built the spectacular Great Hall in the 15th Century and at that time the roof would have been thatched.

Our guide described life in the Great Hall in gory detail. It would have had a dirt floor, covered in rushes. At night the hall’s occupants would have shared the Great Hall with their most prized animals so that peasants didn’t try to steal them.

She said the stench from unwashed human bodies, smoke from the fire, animal fat candles and dung would have been horrendous.

Sounds a little like some pubs I’ve been to over the years.

By the 1860s the Great Hall had a much more genteel function as a young ladies’ drawing room.

As we walked from room to room, I was captivated by the ancient wood carvings and beamed ceilings. There was so much to see and all of it was truly amazing. I would highly recommend a visit.