Historic Mains Hall, a Grade II listed manor house, is steeped in local legend. It is believed that some of the original beams contained within the Hall are part of a much earlier building, dating from medieval times.
Sir Alan de Singleton was given this land by King John and reigned here as Lord of the Manor in the early 13th century. Sir Alan also had links with the famous Chingle Hall near Goosnargh, Preston, reputedly one of the most haunted houses in Britain.
The original Hall may also have had links with Cockersand Abbey, as some old maps refer to it as Monks Hall. It is believed that lay brothers from the Premonstratensian Order were tenant farmers here for some period of time.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, much land was handed over to the local lords. In 1536, Mains Hall became the property of the 5th Earl of Derby and later, to Alice Countess of Derby, who subsequently sold it to William Hesketh in 1602. During the Tudor and Elizabethan era, several generations of the Hesketh family resided here and beyond, into the time of James I and Charles I.
It was Thomas Hesketh, along with his second wife Mary, who restored the old chapel and barns here. Evidently proud of their restoration, they left their mark in the brickwork, which we can still see today, along with the date – 1686.
Cardinal Allen is also associated with Mains Hall, his sister Elizabeth Allen being married to William Hesketh, a descendant of the Heskeths who owned Rufford Old Hall. Priest holes were discovered in the ‘old’ Great Hall at Mains and there are still priest holes contained within the Manor too. These carefully concealed hiding places were used by priests during the raids that were mounted repeatedly by the Protestant authorities. Cardinal Allen and other persecuted priests, spent many an hour hiding here in fear of their lives.
As well as providing a sanctuary for persecuted Catholic priests, a later member of the Hesketh family ‘unwillingly’ gave food and shelter to a marauding party of Scots troopers during the Jacobite rebellion in 1715.
The Hall has also been home to many other famous local families including the Fitzherbert-Brockholes, the most famous of which was Maria Fitzherbert, mistress and later, ‘wife’ to George IV. Mrs Fitzherbert, a staunch Catholic, had connections with Mains Hall through her marriage to Colonel Fitzherbert, her second husband. The Prince Regent, later to become George IV, torn between love and duty, illicitly courted the young Maria away from the gossip and speculation of London society.
It has been suggested by some historical sources that the Prince visited her here at the Mains estate. One can almost imagine the two lovers walking hand in hand here within the grounds in happier times.