OS grid ref:- SD785442
The pretty village of Downham, often quoted as the most beautiful village in Lancashire, is situated on the north side of Pendle Hill off the A59 road around 3 miles (4.8 km) from Clitheroe.
Settlers came to the Downham area over 1,000 years ago, probably in the eighth or ninth century. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon words, Dun meansing hill and Ham a settlement. Although the village is not recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 a reference to the village elder or lord, Aufray [Alfred] the Saxon in early records suggest a settlement existed at Downham at the time of the Norman Conquest.
The manor of Downham was originally granted to the de Dinelay family in the fourteenth century by Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. It ceased to be a part of the Honour of Clitheroe in 1558 when it was purchased by the Assheton family. It still remains in Assheton ownership today
The village church of St. Leonards occupied the site of a much earlier church. During the rebuilding of the church 1910 traces of early Norman or Anglo- Saxon foundations were unearthed. The present building has a fiftenth century tower and main body of 1910, and stands at the top of the steep main street of the village. The church bells are said to have been removed from Whalley Abbey when it was dissolved on the orders of King Henry VIII in 1537.
Successive generations of the Assheton family have lived at Downham Hall since 1558, the present owner is Lord Clitheroe of Downham. A large stone by the entrance to the hall is reputed to mark the final resting place of two legionnaires who died on the Roman road during fighting with the local Brigantes tribe. Most of the stone cottages in the village were built between the reigns of the the sixteenth and nineteenth . The oldest house is dated 1580. Downham Brook, crossed by a fine stone bridge, runs through the village and once supplied its homes with water.
There is a village pub ‘The Assheton Arms’ and a Post Office shop & tearooms. There is also a car park, information centre and toilets on the site of the old farmyard ‘Lower Hall Farm’. The village makes a great starting point for walkers exploring the Ribble Valley or Pendle Hill
Picturesque and unspoilt, Downham has no overhead electricity lines, aerials or satellite dishes, has led to it been used as a location in many period film productions and tv programmes, notably in the 1961 film Whistle Down the Wind, and the series Born and Bred, set in the fictional village of Ormston, was also filmed in the village. The BBC drama, November 2012, "The Secret Of Crickley Hall" was also filmed in and around Downham.
The village is also associated with Old Mother Demdike, Alice Nutter and other infamous Pendle witches.
A walk from Downham to Pendle Hill
Distance - around 6. 5 miles
* Commencing at the car park adjacent to Downham Information Centre, proceed to the road and turn right, using the track with walls on both sides. Cross a stone stile and proceed across a field. Take the wide path which exits the field at the corner. Continue heading towards the gate in the corner of a further field. Pass through a gate, through the next field to its corner and cross a stone stile and continue by the side of a wall.
*On reaching the point where the wall veers off uphill, head diagonally left across the field. Pass round the right hand side of a fence and on to the left of a line of trees to the corner of the field. Go through the kissing gate and continue ascending, follow the path round to the left and down towards a farm building. Pass to the right of the building and continue on to arrive at a lane.
*Cross a stile and turn right along a lane, continue straight ahead to a point where the lane bends to the right and forks, take the left fork going uphill, at the end of the lane take the grassy path, cross a stile and procced diagonally right towards a waymarker, turn left and continue uphill. The track bends around to the right and follows stone waymarkers towards Burst Clough. It begins to climb up by the side of a wall, then leaves the wall to proceed diagonally up to the right as it begins the ascent to Pendle Moor.
*After passing the last waymarker, continue up onto a track, and keep on climbing. As the path reaches almost to the summit of the climb, it is interspersed with small cairns. As you approach a much larger cairn, take the track which branches off to the left about twenty yards before it and continue climbing. Keep straight to reach large stone memorial. Pass the monument and continue towards the weather shelter seen ahead. From the weather shelter continue to cross a stile in the wall ahead. Follow the track as it veers to the right and continue to arrive at a gate and a stile in a wall.
*Cross the stile and continue to the trig point then return to the wall and stile, take the descending track directly away from the wall, a it starts to contour around the hill to the left the return track to Downham comes into view below to the right. Cross a stile and continue down to a wall seen ahead. Cross a stile in the wall and continue away from the wall down towards Pendle Road. Pass through a kissing gate, cross a road and on through another kissing gate. Descend steps and cross a stile, then follow the track to the left, just before the fence, as it rises to head the short distance to the building. Opposite the right hand side of the building there is a stile in the wall. Cross the stile and head down the right hand side of the field.
*Cross a stile into the next field, to cross a further stile, then cross the lane to cross the stile diagonally left. Cross the stile and turn left, cross a footbridge and another field, continue to cross the next stile in the corner of the field and on towards the fence ahead. Pass through a kissing gate and proceed across a field, pass a waymarker to reach Downham Beck. Continue on along the path which follows the beck to arrive at a road. Proceed along the road and on reaching a junction turn right. As the road approaches a bridge, turn left along another road just before the bridge. Continue along this road then turn righr to return to the car park at Downham.
Nearby Places of Interest
Pendle Heritage Centre set in a range of tastefully restored Grade II Listed farm buildings and .consists of a museum, art gallery, gift shop, tea-room, an eighteenth century walled garden, cruck barn with farmyard animals and tourist information.
Whalley Abbey- founded by Henry de Lacy, third Earl of Lincoln on the 4th April 1296.
Lancaster Castle founded in the tenth century
Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, Lancaster was commissioned by James Williamson, Baron Ashton as a tribute to his second wife, Jenny and was built between 1907 and 1909.
Butterfly House, Lancaster
Clitheroe Castle-Norman castle keep and museum, said to be one of the oldest buildings in Lancashire, and one of the smallest keeps in England,