Clitheroe Civic Society hear talk from Robert Parker of Browsholme Hall

Clitheroe Civic Society’s November meeting heard Robert Parker of Browsholme Hall give a fascinating presentation about his unexpected inheritance of the hall in 1975.
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Browsholme has been continuously owned and occupied by the same family since the building of the present house in the 16th century, consequently furniture, artifacts and family papers date back to this time.

When his distant cousin Colonel Parker died, Robert was a twenty-year-old undergraduate at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. He and his family were completely unaware that he had been named as his cousin’s successor.

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He must have made a good impression as Colonel Parker added a codicil to his will appointing him his heir. It did make for an awkward funeral as the Colonel had closer relatives.

Browsholme Hall, ClitheroeBrowsholme Hall, Clitheroe
Browsholme Hall, Clitheroe

Whether or not to move to Browsholme and accept the huge responsibility was the first decision for Robert and his parents.

The house came with no money but a recent change in inheritance tax laws made the need for cash less urgent. Delaying the payment of death duties brought the obligation to open the house to the public for 28 days, with his immediate family acting as guides ( I can remember being taken round the house by Robert’s father). Supported by his parents, Robert was able to gradually able to modernise the house in essential areas, turning a damp smelly house with dangerous wiring and an unfit water supply into a habitable home. Part of its charm was the lack of remodelling over many hundreds of years, which he was able to illustrate by contrasting photographs from 1809 with those from 2023. The same furniture and artifacts having been in the house since the house was built in the 16th century.

As time went on Robert and his wife Amanda considered ways of improving the Hall’s commercial viability, whilst being determined to retain the ‘feel’ and comfort of a family home.

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They decided to convert a redundant barn into a wedding venue. This was such a success that camping pods were added for accommodation for wedding parties and a café created in the restored cart shed. The brides are encouraged to plant a tree in the grounds of Browsholme.

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From the early days when his father dredged the lake, to the present day with the wilderness being replanted, the grounds have been gradually reinstated. The original plans for the garden were found and have been used as a blueprint for the layout of the restoration.

Robert and Amanda have now been custodians of the house for nearly 50 years, and are thoroughly embedded in the community.

Amanda is the new Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire and Robert her deputy and the managing director Clitheroe Auction Mart.

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In employing 15 local staff in a full and part time capacity and welcoming locals and tourists to enjoy their home and gardens, Robert and Amanda can be certain that their unexpected inheritance has been a great success and secured Browsholme Hall’s future for generations to come.

Clitheroe Civic Society’s next presentation is on December 4th at St Michael and St John’s Hall, Lowergate, entitled “The Reluctant Commissioner” from Sir Paul Stephenson Kt QPM, a former Comissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Entry is free for members and students and £3 for visitors. Light refreshments included.