RESTORATION work is under way on one of West Lancashire’s most impressive buildings and one of Lathom’s historical wonders.
Blythe Hall, once home to the third Earl of Lathom, is undergoing a massive revamp.
Plans were submitted to the council in 2008 to transform the Grade II listed building by owners Andy and Tracey Bell from Rufford.
In 2007, the property and 38 acres of land was rumoured to have been bought by Liverpool player Steven Gerrard for £3.5million.
Now the mansion on Blythe Lane, which dates back to the 12th century, is being converted into a modern family home.
Plans include the demolition of an existing stable block and north west wing including the conservatory and boiler house plus a single storey rear extension.
Internal alterations will be made to the main hall and staircase although the 1920’s structure and features will be retained.
The swimming pool will be filled in and turned into a ballroom, which will be fully reversible and the mosaics on the columns will be covered over with a protective layer and new finish applied.
It is believed that a house occupied the site as early as 1189 and records show a house built of handmade bricks and wood in the early 16th Century.
Previous owners include Geoffrey Travers who was given the added title of ‘de Blythe.’
The de Blythes owned the property for at least two centuries. The Blakelache family then owned the hall and it became known as Blakelache Hall for over a century.
The Blakelache family sold to William and Kathleen Hall for £670 in 1693, £335 for the house and the same for the land.
The Halls sold to Thomas Langton who became the Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire in 1807. Edward Wilbraham, Baron of Skelmersdale, then bought the house in 1826 for £8,424.
Extension work was carried out by the subsequent owner, the Earl Lathom, in the early 1900s using many materials from the demolition of Lathom House, including the finest fireplaces.
The Earl finally moved into the hall with his sister having spent £50,000 on the building. With grand staircases, marble pillars plus a skittle alley and swimming bath, the hall became a favourite haunt for many of the Earl’s friends. These included Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and Gertrude Lawrence, and they often did ‘turns’ at the Lathom Club.
The Earl wrote and produced many plays but found himself in debt and he sold the hall in 1922.
The hall remained empty up until 1932 when the Passionist Order bought it to use as a college for priests, naming it St Gabriel’s Retreat. They converted the skittle alley into a church and the school remained open until 1974, when it was sold because they could not afford to keep it open.