Historic farmhouse given new lease of life

3 November 2014

RESTORATION work on an historic farmhouse in Chorley is now complete, giving it an amazing new lease of life as the area’s first heritage hub.

The 400-year-old Astley Farmhouse, which forms part of the town’s Astley Hall complex owned by Chorley Council, has been completely restored so that it can be used by community groups as a research centre and exhibition space.

Chorley Council has invested £130,000 to refurbish the Grade 2 listed building, which will now be used to showcase and celebrate local heritage, culture and the community.
The refurbishment of Astley Farmhouse has been done in conjunction with the community groups who have taken up residence in the building.

The groups include the Chorley branch of the Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society who is working with the council to open a new research centre and the Lodge Artists Society and the Chorley Photographic Society who will present a joint exhibition in the main ground floor exhibition space.

Upstairs is a special exhibition celebrating 75 years of ROF Chorley, which has been put together by the Chorley Remembers group, Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society, Chorley Heritage Centre Society and the Chorley branch of the Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society.
Councillor Bev Murray, who oversees Astley Hall, Coach House and Park, said: “The Farmhouse is an important old building within Astley Park, which we’ve refurbished and brought up to modern standards, without spoiling its character.  We wanted to create a heritage hub for community groups to use and exhibit art works and hold workshops and the building is perfect for that.

“Prior to the refurbishment, the old building was only home to the Chorley branch of the Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society, with the rest of the building empty, apart from a pop-up shop, which used it last summer. 

“Now it is a fresh modern exhibition space that includes facilities and areas that will enable heritage groups to work together to make the Farmhouse, and in turn the Astley complex, a centre of regional importance.  It is somewhere that those who are passionate about history, heritage and culture can unite and share their knowledge.

“It adds to and improves the experience for visitors to Astley Hall by complementing the existing gallery and exhibition spaces we already have there while creating a whole new display of local culture for people to enjoy.”

Astley Farmhouse dates back to the 17th century, or earlier and is one of the collection of buildings that formed the service area for Astley Hall. It’s older than the Coach House opposite, and is of considerably lower status as shown by the rough-hewn timbers found in the roof structure and now partly exposed in the first floor exhibition space.

The recent works have revealed the remnants of a timber frame which suggests the building was re-skinned in brick probably during the 18th century.

Apart from the re-skinning, the building has been greatly altered over the years with former cart door openings blocked up, door and window openings also closed and others created showing how the use of the building has evolved throughout its history.

Councillor Murray added: “These latest works have been sympathetically designed to allow all the changes that have gone before to be clearly seen and will add yet another layer to the building’s history.

“The Farmhouse is just one of the many improvements we’re making to the Astley complex and it will be a vital heritage hub for the Chorley borough.  It is part of the council’s ambitious Astley 2020 project that aims to create a sustainable centre of regional importance and attract even more visitors to the area.”

Astley Farmhouse is open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays 10am – 4pm (all areas), every Saturday 12 noon – 4pm (for exhibitions), second and third Saturday of the month 12 noon – 4pm (family history centre).


Picture caption: Councillor Bev Murray in the ground floor exhibition space of Astley Farmhouse.
For more information, please contact Campaigns and Engagement manager (events) Louise Finch on 01257 515062.

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