You might have seen on Instagram last week that I was at Stirk House for a working lunch and I promised to share a little more about it here on my blog. It’s a fabulous venue and whether you are local or whether you might be planning a visit to our lovely region, (North Yorkshire, Ribble valley, Lancashire), I thoroughly recommend it.
It’s located in Gisburn, near Clitheroe and was built in 1635 using stone from the nearby SawleyAbbey which had been dismantled during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Set in 22 acres of landscaped gardens, woodland walks and nature trails, it is home to PRIME, an outstanding, award-winning restaurant and has renowned conference facilities. It is a favourite wedding venue, has an array of beautiful accommodation and a well-equipped leisure centre and has stunning views of Pendle Hill.
Stirk House enjoys a long and distinguished history. Post-war, it gained a reputation as an exclusive spot; it was THE place to dine and socialize. In the 1950s, waiters wore tails and white gloves and the hotel became a popular venue for wedding receptions. The popularity continued until the turn of the century when the economic recession of the noughties had a significant impact. This beautiful grand old manor house faded a little and became quieter. It seemed to fall off the map and people, myself included, simply drove past.
Enter Amanda Jane Arends, the talented Sales and Business Development Manager and a force of nature who joined in November 2015. Full of passion, vision and drive, she began a comprehensive, sympathetic refurbishment and has a multitude of ideas for further development. Her mission is to bring guests and visitors down the drive so they can see for themselves the vibrant, sophisticated and welcoming
venue it is. The managing director of the hotel, Kevin Maree shares Amanda’s vision and supports her wholly, so enabling her to realise the hotel’s potential.
I first met Amanda a few weeks ago to discuss an upcoming feature for Aspire Magazine, (for those that don’t know, my day job is as a journalist, copywriter and editor for this Skipton-based lifestyle magazine), and her enthusiasm and energy blew me away. We met again last week for afternoon tea in PRIME and we were joined by a sprightly octogenarian who was the hotel secretary from 1981-2000. (I had been led to believe before the meeting that she was 100, but I could see immediately that she very obviously wasn’t. She told me she plans on doing a lot more living and is happy with her mere 81 years of age!) She recalls that the ballroom was always alive with parties in full swing and crowds of guests keen to spot the celebrities and the aristocracy who frequented the hotel. When in office, both Margaret Thatcher and John Major stayed and singers Matt Munro and FrankieVaughan were regular guests. Invited authors would do readings and draw large, appreciativeaudiences. The location, a mere 10-minute drive from Clitheroe and just 15 from Skipton, meant it was popular with both Yorkshire and Lancashire dwellers alike and everyone wanted to be there.
The economic recession during the early noughties had a significant impact and this beautiful grand old manor house faded a little, even though everyone remembered their visit or time in employment with nothing but fondness.
Today though, with the benefit of Amanda’s input, Stirk House is very much back on the map and is well and truly back in its prime! Don’t just take my word for it though, drive down, go for afternoon tea or coffee and a cake. The food and ambience at PRIME are amazing and must be experienced.
It’s run by head chef Chris Dobson who champions local ingredients and suppliers. The afternoon tea varies depending upon the season. Mine was absolutely divine and included homemade sausage rolls, served warm, mini brioches with ham and rocket, open toasted sandwiches with brie and cranberry and oodles of decadent mini desserts plus scones with clotted cream and jam. There is the option of adding a glass of Prosecco to make it extra special. On this occasion, I didn’t because I was both working and driving so the only bubbles I had were courtesy of my sparkling water….but next time!
The decor in PRIME is stunning too. Opulent mirrors and lighting and plaids in shades of heather and grey; modern elegance.
The fire lounge, recently been redecorated in muted, relaxing tones is cosy and welcoming. Sophistication abounds yet the atmosphere is warm and approachable.
|The Fire Lounge|
So, turn down the beautiful driveway, (when I went it was lined with daffodils in full bloom), and go and say hello to Amanda. She and the whole team make absolutely everyone feel incredibly welcome and I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Stirk House Hotel