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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.

DownhamDownham Hall

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

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,

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