<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Stirk House - weddings, fine dining and boxing

PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 July 2017

The hotel was built in the 1600s

The hotel was built in the 1600s

glynn ward

One of the Ribble Valley’s oldest hotels has had a stylish contemporary make-over, writes Roger Borrell.

A suite perfect for honeymoons A suite perfect for honeymoons

If you ever see a photograph of a bride wearing a pair of boxing gloves don’t worry – this probably wasn’t the start of a stormy marriage. It’s more likely the happy couple were wed at Stirk House, a historic hotel in the Ribble Valley.

It has to be the only hotel with a full size boxing ring – something that has become a favourite for newly weds looking for a quirky reminder of their big day.

It’s a very modern concept at a very ancient establishment, found on the outskirts of Gisburn. It was built in the 1630s partly with stone ‘acquired’ from Sawley Abbey after Henry VIII knocked it about. It has its own priest hole, a mark of the first owner’s allegiances.

In the early 1800s Stirk House was a venue for wild parties thrown by a London financier and later owners included the Hartley family, most famous for one member, William, who was bandmaster on SS Titanic.

Trainer Kevin Maree with boxer Mark Heffron Trainer Kevin Maree with boxer Mark Heffron

A gent called Harry Speak bought it in the 1930s for a mere £500 and set about turning it into a hotel. A major refurbishment followed a fire in the 1950s and the restored hotel gained a reputation as an exclusive venue with flunkies in white gloves and tailcoats.

It was around this time that it became a popular location for wedding receptions and that continues to this day. Amanda Arends, the sales and business development manager, said: ‘Not so long ago we hosted 18 weddings in a year. We’ve just done 22 in one month!’

Its most recent owner is businessman Paul Caddy and the hotel is run by his daughter, Helen Kay, in partnership with Kevin Maree, one of Britain top boxing trainers, who runs Maree Leisure.

He is based at the neighbouring leisure club which boasts, as well as a boxing ring, a gym, heated pool, steam room and sauna. The connection means that some of the world’s top boxers – including Mike Tyson, Rickie Hatton and Joe Frazier – have been spotted at the hotel. Hoping to join them in the hall of fame is Oldham’s Mark Heffron, an unbeaten middleweight, trained by Kevin at Stirk House and now managed by the legendary Frank Warren.

Amanda and the team are helping to ensure the rest of Stirk House punches above its weight. ‘When I arrived I went out onto the streets of the towns and villages in the Ribble Valley and did my own marketing by asking people what they knew about Stirk House,’ said Amanda.

‘Everyone had heard of it but many said they hadn’t been there for 20 years. People passed the sign on the A59 but didn’t come in. We are changing all that.’

Parts of the hotel had become dated and the owners are investing substantial sums giving it a new lease of life. Contemporary furnishings, exclusive wallpaper from the USA and high end lighting have worked well with the ancient stonework in the public rooms. The bedrooms are being similarly upgraded and the restaurant – under the guidance of experienced head chef Chris Dobson – has been rebranded as Prime and renewed as a sophisticated space where guests can enjoy locally sourced food.

Chris, from Accrington, has been a market gardener so he knows his greens as well as his meat. ‘I have Michelin-style classical background,’ he said. ‘We aim to produce good simple food, locally sourced, seasonal and sympathetically cooked.

Stirk House is set in 22 acres, with its own piece of ancient woodland, a bird hide and picnic lawns. Its drive to reduce its carbon footprint has brought it awards for sustainability as well as for its work on wildlife conservation, particularly with the World Owl Trust. The grounds are regarded as a wildlife haven with the hotel team listing 15 mammals and 49 bird species.

‘It’s a beautiful hotel in what has to be one of the most beautiful locations in Britain,’ said Amanda. ‘More and more people are coming to the Ribble Valley and we are determined to be part of that.’

More from Out & About

Wed, 00:00

Celebrate the historic waterways of Lancashire with one of these canalside walks that allow you to enjoy the countryside and witness echoes the the county’s industrial past.

Read more
Canals
Tue, 00:00

Their football clubs both wear navy blue and white strips, but how well can you identify landmarks in Bolton and Preston?

Read more
Preston Bolton Quiz
Friday, January 12, 2018

Spring is not too far off and that’s the time when the birds start getting noisier in our woodlands. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates a couple of the stars of the Dawn Chorus.

Read more
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

John Lenehan selects a relatively gentle walk to blow away the post-Christmas cobwebs

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Monday, January 8, 2018

This proud Lancashire town is shaking off the impact of recession and looking forward to a brighter future, writes Angela Kelly

Read more
Bolton

History is all around you in Cockermouth, but the town has a bustling present and an exciting future too.

Read more
Cockermouth
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Stonyhurst College houses the oldest surviving museum collection in the English speaking world.

Roger Borrell reports

Read more
Stonyhurst
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Whether you’re horse crazy or just along for the ride, equine related events are an important part of the social calendar

Read more
Equestrian
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The 50th anniversary of this unique Bolton theatre will involve the creation of a new centre for the performing arts. Angela Kelly reports

Read more
Bolton
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It’s been an action packed year in Lancashire, how much of it can you remember?

Read more
Quiz
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Usually when we are talking about new sightings of birds in Lancashire, we are referring to the ‘little brown jobs’, which are difficult to recognise.

Read more
Brockholes
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

John Lenehan crosses the paths of witches and Romans in a spectaular walk that’s perfect for a dry winter’s day

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas seems even more appealing in a beautiful rural location, as Mike Glover and photographer Sandy Kitchin discovered

Read more
Grasmere Christmas
Thursday, November 30, 2017

How many of these local landmarks can you recognise?

Read more
Christmas Quiz
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search