Leighton Hall - Lancashire seat of a furniture family
Leighton Hall in Lancashire is the ancestral home of the world-renowned Gillow Reynolds furniture family. The house has a history going back to at least the 13th century, though the present house was built in 1759–61.
The house is Georgian in style, to a design by John Hird. The surrounding woods were replanted and the park laid out soon after construction in 1763.
One of the most famous owners of Leighton Hall was Sir George Middleton, a staunch Royalist in the Civil War. Middleton was knighted and then made a baronet in one single day of fighting at Durham in 1642. He was also the only owner in the history of Leighton Hall to be a Protestant.
The next owner was Albert Hodgson, a Jacobite supporter who was imprisoned during the 1715 Rising in favour of James Stuart. The Hall was burned by government troops and the estate seized. One of Hodgson's friends bought the house at auction and gave it back to him, though it was not until his daughter married a wealthy husband that the Hall could be rebuilt.
In 1822 the property came into the possession of Richard Gillow, the grandson of furniture manufacturer Robert Gillow - who was probably the first person to bring mahogany back to Britain. Richard Gillow added the distinctive Gothic façade to the house in 1822–25, using local white limestone. In 1870 his son, Richard Thomas Gillow, commissioned the Lancaster architects Paley and Austin to add a three-storey wing containing a billiard room, and guest rooms.
The Gillow family still live in the house, which is open to the public, and, naturally, holds an extensive collection of Gillow furniture. Leighton Hall takes pride in allowing visitors to roam the property freely, with no roped-off areas. Visitors can sit on the furniture and even play the piano, and are offered beautiful grounds and gardens, house tours and birds of prey displays.
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