ON the way from Blackburn to Preston stands Samlesbury Hall, on of Lancashire's finest buildings famous for ghostly happenings and its key role in the Roman Catholic 'recusancy' when local nobles refused to give up their faith under the Tudor Protestant monarchs.

Putting the legendary 'White Lady' and other spirits alleged to inhabit the building aside, Burnley historian Roger Frost has been researching its true history - one of three outstanding medieval timber-framed houses in the county.

He tells me: "Few people realise such buildings were once common in the county.

"In the Middle Ages Lancashire was the newest of England’s counties. The word “Lancashire” is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.

"It was among the least developed areas of the country. Almost the whole of the county was covered with dense woodland, so the natural building material was wood.

"The present building at Samlesbury is a reminder of those times. It is thought that the building dates from 1325 and that it was built by Gilbert de Southworth, an early member of the famous recusant family.

"Gilbert’s house replaced an earlier one which had stood on the banks of the river Ribble, close to the twelfth century church of St Leonard the Less, in Samlesbury village.

"In 1323, the house had been destroyed in one of those all-to-frequent Scottish raids into England.

"On this occasion it was Robert the Bruce, the victor of Bannockburn, Edward II’s nemesis, who led the raid.

"The new house, which was built on a more defendable site, was moated. It remained the home of the Southworth’s until 1678/9 when it was sold to Thomas Bradyll who used part of the interior of Samlesbury in his main property at Conishead Priory.

"Samlesbury was leased to families of handloom weavers and, in 1830, it became a public house, the Bradyll Arms. After that, a co-educational boarding school was founded there but it was bought in 1862 by Joseph Harrison, the Blackburn loom maker, mentioned in Bygones last week.

"Joseph never lived at Samlesbury but his son, William, did. I recall visiting some years ago, and the guide saying that Joseph Harrison had committed suicide in the building. This is not the case. It was William who committed suicide after he had been involved in a painful accident.

"Samlesbury, though much altered, remains a reminder of the days when Lancashire buildings looked rather different from the ones we know today."

Now run by the Samlesbury Hall Trust , it is free to visit."