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Rufford Old HallThe pleasant West Lancashire village of Rufford is situated 5½ miles north east of the town of Ormskirk and lies at a point where the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the River Douglas meet.

The village's name derives from the Old English word ruh (rough) and ford, the rough ford, it was a crossing place over the River Douglas. Rufford was recorded in 1212, when it was referred to as Ruchford.

During the reign of the Norman King, Henry I, part of the manor of Rufford was granted by Richard Bussel, baron of Penwortham to Richard Fitton.

His descendant Matilda Fitton married Sir William Hesketh. Sir William's grandson married the daughter of Edmund Fitton,who owned the other moiety of the manor which then descended with the Heskeths. In 1339 Sir William Hesketh was granted a charter for a weekly market and annual fair. He fought at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, and was knight of the shire in 1360.

In the late fifteenth century the Heskeths built Rufford Old Hall. (pictured above left) It was altered in 1661 and redeveloped in the 1820s. The family built Rufford New Hall in 1760 and enlarged it around 1798-99 when the family left the old hall for the new. The timber framed Old Hall is one of Lancashire's finest Tudor buildings. The Great Hall, which once formed the south wing, still appears today very much as it did in Tudor times. It is rumoured that a young William Shakespeare performed at Rufford Old Hall in about 1580.

Rufford MarinaThe village church of St Mary the Virgin, was built of red brick and stone was built in 1869 in the Gothic style. A church has occupied the site since before 1346. There are tea shops and cafes in the village, The village pub, the Hesketh Arms probably dates back to the late eighteenth century.

There are two marinas at Rufford, Fettlers Wharf and St Mary's, St. Mary's Marina provide moorings for 100 craft up to 60 feet in length, and can accommodate both narrow and wide beam boats and canal cruisers. There is a Boathouse Brasserie within the marina complex,which serves meals made from locally grown produce.

Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve, managed by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is a situated to the northwest of the village. In medieval times this area was on the edge of Martin Mere and was drained by the Heskeths. The reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI), because of its geological features and a Lancashire Biological Heritage Site.

Nearby places of interest

Mere Sands Wood- situated between Holmeswood and Rufford is a wildlife-rich haven in the heart of west Lancashire.

The Douglas Valley-The attractive Douglas Valley is a particular favourite with visitors. Stretching from Crooke Village through Gathurst and on to Appley Bridge and the village of Parbold, the valley provides a wealth of opportunities for walking, exploring or simply sitting at one of a number of canal-side inns.

Windmill Animal Farm -Windmill Animal Farm at Red Car Lane in Burscough, Lancashire was first opened to the public in 1992 and offers visitors the chance to experience the every day running of an actual working farm while still having the chance to watch, feed and touch the animals.

Astley Hall-at Chorley is a museum and art gallery housed in a Grade I listed country house. The Hall is set in the grounds of Astley Park which includes woodland, a lake, a fully renovated Victorian walled garden..

Martin Mere -seasonally flooded wetlands attracts tens of thousands of migratory geese and wetlands birds making it one of the finest birding locations in the country.

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