Smithills Hall was taken over by the Radcliffe family in 1335. The Bower and Solar Rooms were added in the 15th century. The wealthy Barton family acquired the Hall by marriage in 1485, and Andrew Barton built a chapel and the Withdrawing Room with its intricately carved Flemish linen-fold panelling.
Robert, Andrew’s son, was a justice of the peace during the Marian persecution (when Protestants were repressed under Queen Mary). George Marsh, a Lancashire Protestant preacher, was interrogated in the green room. Marsh refused to recant and, after imprisonment at Lancaster and trial at Chester, he was burnt as a heretic on 24 April 1555.
According to legend, as he left Smithills Hall, Marsh stamped his foot so hard to re-affirm his faith, that a footprint was left in the stone floor. On the anniversary of his death, it’s said to suffuse with blood.
Prosperous bleachers, the Ainsworth family bought Smithills Hall in 1801, and renovated and rebuilt the Hall into a grand country residence. You can explore the great hall where lords, ladies and servants ate and slept. Spot the rebus (picture puzzle) in the Tudor Withdrawing Room and the Alms Hole in the medieval kitchen. Lift the shutter to see George Marsh’s ‘Footprint of Faith’.
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The recently restored west wing displays the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by Smithills’ Victorian owners. Make time for a walk around the Hall’s formal gardens and Smithills Country Park to enjoy the scenery.
Don’t miss: the extremely rare stained glass crest of martyr Thomas Cranmer in the chapel.
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Smithills Hall, Smithills Dean Road, Bolton BL1 7NP
tel: 01204 332377