Visit to Browsholme Hall 11 June 2024

Promptly at 2pm our volunteer guide, Linda, greeted 16 members on the drive before the imposing façade of the Hall.  Linda explained that Richard Parker probably built the first house at Browsholme, pronounced ‘Brusom’, (the home at the top of the brow, or hill) in the early 15th century. Richard’s grandson, Edmund Parker built the present hall in 1507. In 1807, after 300 years of alterations, additions and modernisations, Thomas Lister Parker oversaw the landscaping of the garden in the style of ‘Capability’ Brown. Since then, the facade of Browsholme has survived virtually unchanged.

Photo: Peter Booth

Linda led us into The Hall, the centre of the 1507 building, which contains an eclectic accumulation of family possessions, covering many generations of continuous occupation. The display, created by T L Parker in 1807 and depicted in a watercolour (on display) by John Buckler, is the earliest surviving antiquarian interior in the country – a mind-boggling array of pictures, furniture, weapons, clothing and artefacts too numerous to list individually.

Moving into the Library, Linda pointed out the remarkable 17th century diagonal oak panelling, given to T L Parker in 1809. Family portraits adorn the walls whilst, alongside the bookshelves there is a display of Jacobite relics whose presence is due to Robert Parker of Alkincoats, a supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

More family portraits and fine landscapes are the main features of the Drawing Room, a lighter, more spacious state room which was formed when the west wing of Browsholme was rebuilt in 1805. Linda was a mine of information and anecdotes regarding the subjects of the portraits and the acquisition of the many pieces of fine Regency furniture.

As we moved through the Dining Room, with its huge gilt pier table and massive sideboard, the Ante Room, along the Corridor and up the Stairs, Linda continued to entertain us with stories of the Parker family, the development of Browsholme and the acquisition of its many treasured collections and artefacts.

Passing through the Yellow Room, now a guest bedroom, we arrived in the Oak Drawing Room, with its early 18th century oak panelling, still used on a daily basis by the family. The present owner, Robert Parker, inherited Browsholme Hall in 1975, aged 20, from his distant fourth cousin, Colonel Robert Parker. By this time, the house and estate had become run down and lacked many basic amenities. Robert and his parents, Christopher and Diana, moved from Essex to try to revive the Hall as a family home. Through their efforts, 45 years later, the Hall and gardens have been restored and improved to their present impressive state. In 2009, The Tithe Barn was renovated to provide a venue for theatre, concerts, exhibitions and wedding celebrations.

Emerging into the sunshine to admire the impressive garden, the party walked back through the farm buildings to the former Cart Shed, now a café where we enjoyed light refreshments. All the members had thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the Hall, gaining an insight into the history of the seventeen generations of the Parker family who have lived at Browsholme Hall, Lancashire’s oldest surviving home still in the possession of the same family.

Photo: Peter Booth