Lytham Hall in the 1960s
Newspaper report about Harry Jeffery, security officer, and his wife, Violet, housekeeper, who
were in charge of the Lytham Hall between1971 & 1982.
EXPRESS—DECEMBER 31, 1982
Harry, guardian of a part of Lytham's heritage, calls it a day
A MAN who spent the last 12 years helping in the day-to-day running of Lytham
Hall, once ancestral home of the Clifton family, spoke this week about its new and developing role
in the social life of Fylde, and Lytham in particular.
He is Mr Harry Jeffery, security officer and along with his wife, Violet, housekeeper in charge of
the hall since 1971, who recently retired. Both assisted in the hall's gradual process of "going
public" after more than 200 years hiding behind a very private and mainly historical identity.
Its owners, the Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance Company, who bought the hall
in 1965 and saved it from ruin, set the process in motion and funded it to the tune of £200,000
plus. That is the cost of renovation and restoration to date. And the end of the spending is not
yet in sight.
Few Lytham people in the real world outside the hall ever saw the inside of this monument to a
bygone age when the Clifton family lived there. And the last Clifton, Harry, never lived there
after the war, although his mother, Mrs Violet Clifton, did for a few years from the late 1950s to
the early 1960s when she died.
At that time, after spending some years in a convent, she occupied the first floor of the hall
which was adapted into a flat. She had a butler whose wife was the cook, a lady's maid and a
general housekeeper. She entertained a number of people in the literary circles in which she moved,
and had dinner parties for a few selected guests.
Unlike many of Britain's stately homes, it was not open to the public and maintained its distant
low-key lifestyle until the Guardian Royal Exchange took it over. Then they used it temporarily for
office and storage accommodation, and finally set about the task of slotting it slowly into the
social life of the district.
This process began to accelerate in more recent years when Workington-born Harry Jeffery, St Annes
police sergeant from 1954 to 1971, retired and moved into The Cottage, adjoining the hall, along
with his wife to assist in the task.
In the last decade, Harry Jeffery and his wife have helped to establish the hall
in its new Lytham lifestyle. He has conducted many parties of 20 or 30 visitors round the old
building, at the same time dispensing a potted history of its legendary past.
Occasional civic gatherings and open weekends have also been held there. It has been, too, a
natural headquarters for shooting parties, although this is nothing new for many prominent figures
in the upper crust of the business and professional world, instead of the old aristocracy, have
enjoyed their favourite sport on the estate.
The hosts for these shoots is usually Mr Ernest Bigland MBE, formerly the Guardian Royal Exchange
managing director, now a full director and the group's deputy chairman.
His guests have included Sir Charles Forte, executive chairman of Trusthouse Forte Ltd; the late
Sir Keith Showering, founder director Showerings Vine Products and Whiteways Ltd, the chief
executive of the merged company and chairman and chief executive Allied Lyons (formerly Allied
Breweries); Sir Patrick Dunn, DFC, who was an RAF Air Marshall before he retired and Col Sir Thomas
E. St Johnstone, once Chief Constable of Lancashire and Harry's boss between 1950-67.
This small sample from the guest lists at the shoots reflects in miniature the shifts of influence
and power which have taken place in Britain in the last 50 or 60 years.
Just as the world of big business, in the shape of The Guardian Royal Exchange, took over the
traditional role of the aristocracy from the Cliftons at Lytham, so national figures in the
business and professional world have replaced the aristocrats who visited the hall to shoot.
These, in the days of John Talbot Clifton, Harry's father, included a Crown Prince of Russia, the
Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of St Albans, who was a Beauclerk and cousin to Mrs Clifton, also a
Today's shoots are also. enjoyed by local farmers who might have had to touch their forelock to the
guests of long, long ago!
Instead, all the guests today, whatever their role in life, are mainly concerned, in groups of
eight or 10, with hunting pheasant, duck, partridge and hare every fortnight between October and
the end of January.
Since the office staffs moved out of the hall, only five members of the Guardian Estates, once
employed in the old Clifton Estate Office in Hastings Place, Lytham, remain to administer the
estate from the West Wing.
During their 12-year spell there, Harry and his wife have lived in The Cottage at the back of the
hall. This was a dairy in the original building when the hall was rebuilt in the 1950s. It was
renovated to a cottage when the Guardian took over in the mid-sixties.
Today, they live in Orchard Road, St Annes, after 17 years on police premises at St Annes, and 12
at The Cottage on the estate.
Click here for the Friends of Lytham Hall Website