Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


  A Brief History of Lytham

Aerial view of LythamLytham is first thought to have been settled by the Anglo Saxons c.600AD. About 900AD, the Fylde, was subject to a huge wave of immigration by Vikings. These were Irish-Norse Vikings and had been expelled from Dublin. They crossed the Irish Sea forming new fishing, farming and trading communities in Lancashire and Cumbria.

The Vikings became Overlords of the Lytham area and local place names such as Kilgrimol (near Lytham) and Kellermergh (by the Birley Arms, Warton), date from this period.

After the conquest of Northern England by the Normans, Lytham’s Viking Overlords seem to have adapted to Norman rule by becoming Norman Thanes and the second generation were given French names. The last of these Norse descendents was Richard Fitz Roger. He had no heir and bequeathed all his lands at Lytham to the Benedictine Monks of Durham.

For a period of 350 years Lytham belonged to Durham, and it was governed by a succession of Priors sent by Durham to reside in the small Benedictine Priory in the Lytham Hall Park area. With the exception of the occasional plague, inundation, storm and riot, the centuries passed peacefully here, mainly because of Lytham’s isolation.

Lytham HallAfter the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Lytham had several successive landowners who subleased Lytham to tenant farmers such as Dannett (in the 1540s and 50s) and the Rodgerley family (in the 1580s and 1590s). These tenant farmers ruled the entire Lytham Estate and had similar rights to those enjoyed by the previous priors.

In 1606, as part of a land deal, the Clifton family of nearby Westby came into possession of Lytham. They made it their family seat, converting the old priory buildings into Lytham Hall and the estate became Lytham Manor. In their 250 year association with Lytham, the Clifton family carried out huge agricultural improvements to their large estate.


An advert from 1835The health benefits of mineral springs such as those at Bath and Buxton were already well-known in the eighteenth century. As early as 1707 doctors believed that bathing and drinking sea-water also had great health benefits.

Between 1789 and 1805, King George III visited Weymouth no less than 14 times for this very purpose to help cure his ‘nervous disorder'. This helped popularise sea bathing and around the British coast villages such as  Lytham  started to attract visitors in ever-increasing numbers.  

From the 1790s onwards, the Clifton family oversaw the transition of Lytham from farming and fishing community, to a health resort and residential village but progress was initially slow.



The industrial revolution  transformed many towns in Lancashire creating large manufacturing districts and greatly increased the population of the county.

Lytham remained isolated from manufacturing but benefited from the prosperity of Preston because as the River Ribble was too shallow for larger vessels, Lytham was used as a port to transfer cargos onto lighters.

As the manufacturers' wealth grew they visited Lytham for their health and hotels were built and enlarged. Several schools opened at Lytham for the sons and daughters of industrialists.


Lytham c1850Some businessmen built houses here as holiday homes or for their retirement but many more were discouraged by the old-fashioned short leases of land offered by the Clifton Estate (for 20 or 40 years - after that the land and property reverted back to the Clifton Family). Lytham also remained quite remote and isolated because of the poor state of the roads.

It wasn't until improvements in roads and the construction of the railway that large-scale development took place. Land then began to be leased for 99, and then 999 years.


Lytham in 1854


The poor quality farmland and sand dunes which lay along the coast had for centuries produced little or no income for the Cliftons It was levelled and became streets and houses providing a huge income from sale of land and buildings and income from ground rents.





Plan for the new resort of St.Annes on the Sea, 1874. In the 1870s the sand dunes and farmland at the West End of Lytham Manor was developed into the new resort of St.Annes on the Sea.