<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

The Oak Royal golf club and hotel at Withnell

PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 March 2016

Oak Royal Golf & Country Club, Withnell, Chorley

Oak Royal Golf & Country Club, Withnell, Chorley


A boutique hotel and restaurant now complements a golf course and club set in lovely Lancashire countryside

Usually, when someone tells you they have built something, they mean they’ve hired people to do the hard work. Not so with Charles Downes and his family.

When he says they built the impressive Oak Royal golf club and hotel at Withnell near Chorley he means they dug the foundations, built the walls and constructed the roof. There are bosses who are hands on and then there is Charles Downes.

He started farming there as a young man on his father’s smallholding with 25 acres before adding another 40 to keep a dairy herd, a milk round and pigs.

But he realised small scale farming was not the way to earn a living long-term and, ahead of his time, diversified with a catering supply business. He took a company with a £50,000 turnover and increased it to £500,000.

‘But I always had a passion for building,’ he says. ‘So when we sold the business in the late 1990s I went into property developing, converting barns and farm buildings as residential homes.’

In 2007 he used part of the farmland to create a golf course with clubhouse, café and restaurant amid beautiful scenery with tremendous panoramic views of the Lancashire countryside. It’s a half-size course with full-size holes and matches US Golf Association standards.

At the time, he made news because he had never – and still hasn’t - played golf. ‘I told people that Richard Branson has an airline but he doesn’t fly the planes,’ said Charles. It was opened by PGA chief executive Sandy Jones and Charles’ son, Fabian, is the course manager.

He saw opening a hotel on the site as a natural progression. ‘There was a gap in the market so we decided to build a boutique four-star hotel.’

While he and another son, Charles Junior, rolled up their shirtsleeves and got on with the building work, his wife, Kath, and daughter, Caroline, created a modern and sophisticated interior design.

‘From the outside it looks like it was opened 200 years ago,’ he said. ‘But from the inside, it looks like it was opened 20 minutes ago.’

There are currently 26 modern bedrooms with great views and cutting-edge fixtures and fittings and sumptuous bathrooms full of the latest technology and upmarket tiling. Each room has been individually designed and there are three suites with balconies.

Food is a big part of the Oak Royal offering and the Lark Hill restaurant, which also welcomes non-residents, has been building up a strong reputation for its no-nonsense menu of classic dishes.

There is also a function room that can take 130 guests - the weddings market is an area the family expects to develop over coming months.

Under the management of Kenny Arnott, who has a track record working in hotels in Bermuda, Dubai and the United States, the business has done so well they are planning to add another six bedrooms.

‘We are proud of what we’ve achieved here,’ said Charles. ‘We wanted to create something that was unique and quite special.’ They’ve certainly done that.

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The pretty village of Barley sits in the shadow of Pendle Hill but John Lenehan chooses a gentler route.

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks Pendle Hill
Monday, March 12, 2018

Business mixes easily with pleasure in the busy market town of Clitheroe, as Mairead Mahon and Kirsty Thompson discovered.

Read more
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Lake Windermere is over 10 miles long and is surrounded by a several beautiful fells, we pick some of our favourite walks that are ideal for anyone visiting the area.

Read more
Windermere Lake District Walks
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

If you ever wondered what happens to the cash supermarkets charge for carriers, then pop along to Lytham Hall. Linda Viney reports

Read more
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Martin Pilkington reports on a Lancashire town that has confounded the pessimists.

Read more
Monday, March 5, 2018

It’s another fine town in old Lancashire but its connection with the world’s most famous comedy duo make it special. Mike Glover reports.

Read more
Friday, March 2, 2018

There has been some amazing work cataloguing wildlife in our region thanks to The Biodiverse Society. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright looks at its legacy

Read more
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

There are many forces of nature to witness in the Lake District, we pick six of our favourite waterfalls.

Read more
Lake District
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Rebekka O’Grady and photographer John Cocks meet some of the new independent businesses calling Southport home

Read more
Monday, February 12, 2018

How many of these local landmarks can you recognise?

Read more
Quiz Spring
Friday, February 9, 2018

Plans for around 600 new houses to be built in pretty Wyre village

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

John Lenehan toasts the re-opening of a Lancashire engineering landmark and notes an invention to revive any walker.

Read more
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Kirkby Lonsdale sits on the spot where Lancashire, Yorkshire and Westmorland meet, making it a great base to explore the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. All these walks start of within a ten mile radius of Kirkby Lonsdale, making them a perfect day trip for anyone staying close to the historic market town.

Read more
Kirkby Lonsdale
Monday, February 5, 2018

From businesses selling banjoes to bridalwear from a former New York costume designer, Colne is a town for all seasons. Mairead Mahon reports.

Read more
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

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search