Witton House – Blackburn

Share this Post:

Witton House was built in 1800 by the largest landowners in Blackburn at the time, the Feilden Family. Wealthy textile merchants who also owned nearby Feniscowles Hall and Woodfold Hall.

Witton House was extended sometime later by Joseph Feilden and according to plans from 1858, the upper floor comprised of 18 rooms and a clerestory. While the ground floor boasted a billiards room and a study.

The census taken in 1851 notes that living in the house at the time were Joseph and Elizabeth Feilden and their seven children, as well as 16 servants. In employment were 60 staff, mainly repair and maintenance workers for the various farms, shops and houses.

With the death of Lieutenant General Feilden in 1895, the family would spend less and less time in the house. As such the house would begin to show signs of neglect. And by 1900 the house was pretty much deserted.

During both World Wars the house was used by the Army for wounded serviceman. After the Second World War, negotiations between the Feilden Family and Blackburn Corporation started. The estate was purchased in 1946 for a total of £64,000, with Blackburn Corporation raising £30,000 and the remainder donated generously by a Mr R E Hart, a local philanthropist.

The contracts were signed in 1947 and the whole 480 acre estate became property of Blackburn Corporation, who held it on behalf of the public.

The house itself could not be saved, with a huge repair bill of £11,000. There was no need for such a huge hall, that had succumbed to dry rot. The house was demolished in 1952, save the couch house, the lily pond and cart shed which still stand to this day.

Renovated in the 1970’s these surviving buildings were converted into a Visitors Centre which were officially opened in 1980, and remained so until 2013.

You can still enjoy the ruins of the old Witton House, as they are still hidden within the woods. Such a huge part of Blackburn history was never truly lost, and fragments of this once majestic building remain for the keen adventurer.

Leave a comment