An historic mansion in East Lancashire has been named as one of the UK’s most endangered buildings and is in desperate need of restoration.

Horncliffe House, on Bury Road in Rawtenstall, has been listed in the Victorian Society’s top 10 endangered buildings.

The charity, which is dedicated to protecting Edwardian and Victorian heritage, released their 2021 list with the aim to expose the plight of publicly nominated buildings in the hope that increased awareness and appreciation will help to save them.

Lancashire Telegraph: Horncliffe House in Rawtenstall (Photo: Anne Hodgson/Victorian Society)Horncliffe House in Rawtenstall (Photo: Anne Hodgson/Victorian Society)

The 19th century Horncliffe House has an extensive history in Lancashire and has endure illegal raves, paranormal investigations and even fires in more recent years.

Now, the former hotel and wedding venue is nothing more than a shell and all that remains is its ornate exterior.

There are more than 20 rooms and more than three and a half acres of land in the property.

Architect, Richard Williams, originally designed the property as a private dwelling for Henry Hoyle Hardman who was a local mill owner and businessman.

Over the years, the building went through several uses, including use as an old people’s home and hotel, before closing in 2007.

Lancashire Telegraph: Horncliffe House was devastated by a fire in 2019 (Photo: David French /Victorian Society)Horncliffe House was devastated by a fire in 2019 (Photo: David French /Victorian Society)

An application to convert it back to a single dwelling was rejected, and it has remained empty since 2009.

A fire in 2019 devastated the interior, which by then was already seriously dilapidated.

Lancashire Telegraph: A fire broke out at the Rawtenstall mansion in 2019A fire broke out at the Rawtenstall mansion in 2019

While its striking and ornate interiors with plaster mouldings and colourful wall paintings were lost to the fire, the exterior retains its finely-dressed stone and carved decorations, and an arched and columned entrance portico.

The building requires extensive works to save it from total collapse – and even more works to restore it to its former glory.

Griff Rhys Jones, Victorian Society President, said: “Horncliffe House is a beautiful building with an unlucky history.

“The tragic fire that destroyed most of its interior was almost the last nail in its coffin, but the exterior still shows its grand history and potential for salvation... This is Horncliffe House’s last chance.

“Extensive works need to be done to make sure it continues to survive, but its easy-access location just off the A56, and striking appearance, would make it an ideal restoration project. It would be wonderful to find a business or individual willing to take up this challenge and bring this fascinating piece of Lancashire’s history back to life.”

A spokesperson for Rossendale Borough Council said: "The Council understands the importance of attempting to save the building which is why it has previously worked with the landowner to try and secure improvements to the condition of the building. 

"Whilst we are disappointed that the building is in such a condition, it is good to see that its’s importance has been acknowledged by the Victorian Society.

Here is the full list of ‘at risk’ buildings mentioned on the Victorian Society’s list (in no particular order):

1. Coal Drops, Halifax, Grade II, Architect unknown, 1874

2. Horncliffe House, Lancashire, Grade-II listed, Richard
Williams, 1869

3. Healings Flour Mill and Warehouses, Tewkesbury Grade II, by W H James of Tewkesbury for Samuel Healing and Son, 1865-6

4. Icknield Street School, Birmingham, Grade II* Listed, by J.H. Chamberlain of Martin and Chamberlain, 1883~

5. Indoor Market, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, Unlisted, Architect Unknown, (1897)

6. Jones & Higgins Department Store, London, Unlisted, Henry Jarvis & Sons, 1983

7. Minley Home Farm, Unlisted, Arthur Castings, 1869

8. Oldham Equitable Cooperative Society (Hill Stores), Oldham, Grade 2 listed, Thomas Taylor, 1900

9. Church of St Helen, Biscathorpe, Lincolnshire, Grade II* Listed, W. A. Nicholson, 1847

10. Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff, Grade II Listed, Oatley and Skinner, 1902-1908


Joe O’Donnell, Victorian Society Director, said: “As always, our list has a wide variety of structures, many of which are recognised through their listing as being nationally important. But they are equally important to local communities.

"The pandemic has accelerated the move to online shopping, impacting areas already struggling, and these issues are reflected in some of the buildings chosen like Burslem’s Indoor Market, and Oldham’s Hill Stores.

"Both provide a perfect opportunity for high quality places for their local communities and a potential opportunity for the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to make transformative investment.”

If you are interested in helping with Horncliffe House’s restoration you can contact John Cowley, business development and communication manager, at: or  020 8747 5897.

You can become a member of the Victorian Society by visiting their website:

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