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The History Of The Barton Grange Hotel

Barton Grange has been in the hands of the Topping family for three generations but it wasn’t always a hotel. Built in 1900, the house was originally designed as a country residence and was first owned by local mill owner and Justice of the Peace, John Healey. In 1925 it was purchased by Levi Collison from Lytham, who lived here until 1940 when the house was requisitioned by the War Office as an officers’ mess for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force - much to Mr Collison’s annoyance. Apparently he chased the requisitioning officer away with a shotgun and the poor man had to return with a police escort! In 1945 Barton Grange caught the eye of Edward and Ada Topping who bought the house at auction for £6,450. Ada intended to run a bed and breakfast from the house while Edward continued their already successful market gardening business from the grounds. Unfortunately for the Toppings, the house was not de-requisitioned until 1950, by which time it had fallen into a dreadful state.

Undeterred, Ada set to work and finally opened for business on July 16th 1951 with just 6 bedrooms. Its popularity increased and during the 1950’s and 60’s more rooms were added including the ballroom (now The Barton Suite) in 1960. Major expansion in the 1970’s added a further 30 rooms as well as a new restaurant and a bar. In the grounds, business had been thriving too. When the Toppings’ son, Edward Junior (known as Eddie) returned from his National Service in 1958, he established Barton Grange Landscapes, operating from the hotel grounds. Five years later, he set up the North West’s first garden centre, also in the grounds. Although only small to begin with, it quickly became established and during the 70’s Eddie added a wholesale plant growing division. Although no longer based at the hotel, each of these businesses is still going strong in the capable hands of two of Eddie’s sons, Peter and Guy.

There were more changes at the hotel during 1996/7 when Eddie’s middle son, Ian redesigned and refurbished the entire property. During these renovations, plans from 1901 were discovered for a walled garden to the south of the house. It was re-created in faithful detail with one addition - a roof - and our award-winning Walled Garden Bistro Wine Bar was born. In 2008, with both the garden centre and the hotel still growing in popularity, Guy moved the original garden centre out of the grounds to its own fantastic new 50 acre site, 2 miles up the A6 at Brock, with the Lancaster Canal running around it and the River Brock running through it.

Today, the hotel has 51 bedrooms, exclusive leisure facilities and the Walled Garden Bistro as well as conference and banqueting facilities for up to 300 guests. But the original house remains at its heart. As you enter our oak panelled lounge through what were the original manor house doors, look up and you’ll see the lintel proudly bearing the year 1900.

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