Hidden Gems In Clitheroe: Things You Didn’t Know

Did you know that there is more to Lancashire’s Clitheroe than meets the eye?
You may think of Clitheroe and its surrounding areas, as solely picturesque and tranquil, but look beneath the surface and you will find an abundance of rich history which is sure to pique the interest of any curious visitor.
Set neatly on the doorstep of the beautiful, and largely untouched, Forest of Bowland, the pretty town has become a much-loved base for nature lovers to come from far and wide to bask in its rural beauty. Interestingly, its 802 square km size means that is it’s about the same size as New York City – but without the noise, pollution, high-rises and throngs of people!
But this is not just a ‘base’ where you might dump your things and pass through without further investigation. The Town is home to a 12th Century Norman keep. Perched atop a hill – the highest and most prominent point for miles around – overlooking its residents and glorious countryside sits an impressive castle, wonderfully preserved, with views to die for. Did you know that this particular keep is said to be one of the smallest in Britain?
Surrounding areas would have been used as castle grounds for its own residents to enjoy under the safety of the watchful eye of the tower. Today visitors are able to enjoy a charity-funded skate park, built in 2006, set within what would have been the old castle grounds – a pleasing juxtaposition of old and new.
That’s not all. For those of you who enjoy an unsettling tale, Clitheroe is the perfect place to educate yourself on the 1612 Pendle Witch trials, the most famous in British history. Did you know that these led to death by hanging of 10 out of the 11 accused? Did you also know that most of them freely confessed to being witches? In those days any single woman, living alone, practicing herbal medicine and casting harmless “spells”, would have laid herself open to accusations of witchcraft. Add into the mix the geography of the area – sprawling hills, moors thick with purple heather, rolling fields with mournful winds whistling in the ear – and you can see how the scene was set for superstition and fear to run riot. Today rivers of grey fog often spill over the fells into the valley, creating a delicate, yet rather eerie, floating blanket over the landscape. Did you know that over 80% of Lancashire is still considered rural today? Just imagine the wilderness 400 years ago… Spooky!
Another interesting and linked historic aspect is that in 1640, on the very same Pendle Hill [on the outskirts of Clitheroe] where the witches had lived, George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement, is said to have had a vision of God. A hill that is alleged to have played host to the forces of both good and evil? Some location!
And on the subject of locations and religion ….the famous Stonyhurst College is also not one to miss. Once a private stately home, now a Catholic boarding school, not only does it house a collection of fascinating historic artwork, objects, and artefacts from key religious figures throughout the world, but its own surrounding landscape is said to be the inspiration to Stonyhurst alumnus Arthur Conan-Doyle in his Hound of the Baskervilles and to J.R.R Tolkien in his Lord of the Rings. Frodo fans might enjoy the idea that Tolkien’s son boarded at the school, and that he himself would stay there often. Conan-Doyle fans will be pleased to know they may trace the scratches of his name, carved by the man himself, in a perfectly preserved desk in one of the halls.
So there! An area rich in natural beauty and with plenty of history to delve into. So immerse yourself in the past and let your imagination run riot! With our stunning accommodation right in the heart of all there is to offer, you’re perfectly placed to start exploring.
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