Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire – Review
Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
There are the odd occasions where it’s perfectly acceptable to leave God’s own country, and take yourself across the Pennines and pay a visit to the land of the red rose.
There’s many a Yorkshireman who would disagree with me on that one, but when it comes to taking a glamping break at Samlesbury Hall, near Preston there can be little or no argument that your decision is a good one.
For my friend and I were lucky enough to be invited to check out The Hamlet at this 12th Century stately home for a couple of nights of peace, quiet, relaxation and quality catch up time.
“A perfect start”
A little over an hour’s drive from Halifax, we entered in to the rural part of Lancashire and the grounds at Samlesbury Hall. On first sight, you’re presented with a view that puts the past together with the present. It’s very eye catching.
At reception we were warmly welcomed by a smiling Helena. I’d spoken to her a couple of times to arrange my stay and I have to say I can’t recall booking a trip that has been so well organised. Things had got off to a perfect start, we had our key and we went to check out our digs for the next couple of nights.
By sheer coincidence we’d arrived exactly a year to the day that the last of 28 Shepherd Huts at The Hamlet were installed in the Hall’s grounds. We could park close by, and what a beautiful setting. In and amongst this green, leafy, quiet were these brightly coloured huts resembling carriages. A lovely splash of vibrancy in a natural haven.
Stepping inside our accommodation we were surprised at how much space we had. The hut comprised of two double bunks, and a compact but spacious area between the beds and the bathroom. The bathroom was very clean with a toilet, sink and shower. Tea and coffee facilities, along with a packet of biscuits were waiting for us as we arrived, as was a welcome bottle of prosecco, some wood for burning and marshmallows for toasting on the wood burner outside.
Like two kids on a residential we ‘baggsy-ed’ our bunks, cracked open the biscuits and nodded at each other in approval. Think we were going to like it here!
“Bright and cheery”
We were booked in for a late afternoon meal in the Samlesbury Hall restaurant shortly after we’d checked in. We walked back round to the main building and the fresh country air and sounds of the birds talking to meant we were just relaxed. It was nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of urban life and this was going to be a lovely leisurely break.
We found the restaurant and as we walked in, Amy bounced over with a bright and cheery welcome for us. They certainly have some great people here at Samlesbury Hall, and they’re a great advert for the place. She gave us a choice of where we’d like to sit, and handed us a couple of menus.
The restaurant was our first look at the interior of the place, and this is where the history and heritage hit us. That old wood smell, that echo of every noise. High ceilings, wooden beams… it’s like you’re in a period drama. The character oozed out, and it took us ages to draw our attention away from the room and look at the menu.
We’d heard that the food here has a great reputation, and there are some tempting plates to choose from. Reasonably priced too.
Amy must have been fed up of waiting for us to order but she was still smiling as we asked for Eggs Benedict (£7.50) and a Seafood Platter (£10.95) to start. We followed this up with Sausage and Mash and Grilled Cajun Chicken Sandwich for our main courses, at £10.95 each.
The Seafood Platter was for me, and when it arrived I’d chosen well. Smoked salmon, tempura prawns, fried calamari, tartare sauce and home made bread were placed in front of me and my eyes lit up. It was presented so well, and tasted even better. It was a platter for one, but there was plenty on the board and it could easily have passed as a main dish. The tempura prawns were especially spot-on.
My friend’s Eggs Benedict was just as well prepared. And yes, the yolk poured out as he slid his knife in to it. The eggs are from the hens on site at Samlesbury Hall, and there was a nice twist with the homemade sourdough bread that it came on too.
Astonishingly, visiting Samlesbury Hall is free. They rely on the restaurant and tips for the upkeep of the venue and to pay the wages of their fantastic staff. And if our starters and main courses are anything to go by, they’ll be doing ok.
My sausage and mash arrived and it was another big dish, with good hearty Cumberland sausages. It arrived with grain mustard mash and seasonal veg (hold the carrots!). Add in the nice thick gravy and what a dish. We weren’t going to need to eat again for the rest of the day, that’s for sure! My friend’s Cajun Chicken Sandwich also made him feel replete – so much so we both had to decline the offer of dessert.
We’d had an incredible meal, and so far our stay was working out nicely.
“Switch off from everyday life“
We headed back towards our hut, but not before taking a little walk around the grounds and checking out the family of animals they have on site.
There’s a small area with hens, goat, sheep, and two pigs – Elvis and Ozzie. The pigs are quite chatty too, and if you decide to come here and glamp with the kids they’ll love paying the animals a visit.
Our walk around made it really hit home what a picturesque place Samlesbury Hall is. Both the building and the grounds. The gardens are well tendered to, and some views of the place make you stop and admire.
After our food and our little amble around the premises, we decided to relax for a while. We did that back at the hut; cracking open the prosecco and sitting at the picnic table outside. Sometimes you need to take part in an activity to switch off from everyday life. But the tranquillity you get when you’re off the beaten track really can’t be beaten. That’s something you get in abundance here.
It was so relaxing that we stayed outside until nightfall. And as the sky got darker, the festoon lighting draped between each hut added another ambience.
“A busy second day”
We’d had a great nights sleep, and a lovely fresh breakfast in the restaurant. Which was perfect, as we had a busy second day planned in. Samlesbury Hall provides a guided tour of the Hall on certain days. Your guide is dressed up and in character as they take you around the beautiful building. At other times, like today, you’re free to wander round on your own. We quite liked it this way. It allowed us to saunter round at our own pace, and point out things that caught our eye. My friend and I are quite in to old relics (he’d just turned 40 as well, so you could say that’s what we were too).
The hall, like the restaurant has this gorgeous olde-style aroma, and its character is quite imposing. I think the phrase is “gripped in history” describes the feeling you get walking round. You learn about the place, how it was used and when. And some rooms are themed in to various time periods – from Tudor to Medievil, to the wartime and to closer to the modern day. There’s a fantastic timeline that runs around the final room of the hall, and it gives you plenty of interesting milestones about Samlesbury Hall and the local history. It even mentions Blackburn Rovers winning the Premier League in 1995!
My friend and I both said that we were amazed that this place doesn’t charge a small, nominal fee for its upkeep. But I can see why people keep returning. I’m sure they’ll tip every time they come.
“Buzzing with excitement”
The place caters for everyone too. And Dotties Wafflrey mixes things up a bit, with every flavour of waffle, ice-cream and sweet you can think of. But don’t order two like I did and think you can get away with it!
I went for the Banoffee waffle, and thought I’d indulge in a Samlesbury Sundae too. We sat outside and when they were brought to us they looked amazing. The owner rushed out to laugh at me for ordering two though – they were massive. I couldn’t help but laugh back, and try to tuck in. Both were wonderful, and I polished off the Banoffee like a pro! The sundae not so much, and I had to take it back inside and ask if she’d convert it to a milkshake for me. Which she did, and with a little help from my traval buddy we finished that off too.
And with that, we had one more part of Samlesbury Hall to visit.
The Bee Experience is a very nice optional extra to your stay which lets you have a bit of fun – even if you’re a little apprehensive when it comes to wandering in to the vicinity of millions of bees!
Situated on the car park, we were invited to check out an hour long taster session of what they offer. Looking stunning in bee-keeper gear we had a fun and educational snapshot of the Bee Experience with Simon. We learned that bee-keeping is a craft, as well as a hobby. And there’s a fascinating science behind how bees live and work in their hives. With a honey tasting session at the end too (incredible honey!) it’s a must-do when you book a stay at Samlesbury Hall. Book in advance though, I can see these being popular. Although unnerving having numerous bees land on your face mask, you’re left buzzing (pun intended) afterwards. And for us, it was a fantastic way to end a lovely stay.
We locked our hut and checked out with Helena again. Her and the team had made our couple of nights here so nice. And the brilliant venue is a treasure of a place, we’d really enjoyed our visit. The Hamlet at Samlesbury Hall is a delight. Peaceful, tranquil and complete with fresh country air. I‘m not a fan of mucky camping, but in these comfy huts this is something I could do time and again.
See you again soon, Samlesbuy Hall!
Samlesbury Hall, Preston New Road, Samlesbury, Preston, PR5 0UP
Samlesbury Hall is one of the stunning stately homes of Lancashire, a haven for history lovers, where the past meets the present – a fantastic, family day out.
The Hamlet is a glamping experience consisting of 25 shepherd huts and pods, which cater for couples, groups and families and prices start from £25pppn