Rufford Old Hall, the home of the Hesketh family, grew over three separate periods.

In 1420 Sir Thomas Hesketh built a half-timbered manor house and established the family seat for the next 350 years. Like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him, Sir Thomas married an heiress.

No expense was spared on the new house and, although only the great hall, with its upright timber studding, quartrefoil decoration and mullioned windows, survives from the original building, it clearly indicates the family's wealth and position.

The manor house, according to the medieval pattern, would originally have had a cross wing at each end of the great hall.

The west wing, which housed the family apartments, has completed disappeared and the east wing, which contained the domestic offices, has been extensively rebuilt.

The magnificent great hall was built to be admired. It is 46 feet long and 22 feet wide and crowned by a splendid hammer-beam roof with quatrefoil motifs. Each massive beam is fretted with carved battlements and at the end of the supporting timbers angels (all but one now wingless) gaze down on the hall.

At the west end of the room, where the high table would have stood, are blocked doors that led to the solar and parlour in the now demolished west wing.

Separating the hall from the kitchen at the eastern end is a huge, elaborately carved, movable wooden screen. This rare feature, with its three soaring fininals, replaced the traditional screens passage and is a fascinating survival.

Local legend maintains that Shakespeare permformed in the great hall whilst in Sir Thomas Hesketh's service.

In 1661 the Carolean wing was built at right angles to the great hall. The symmetrical gabled facade was constructed of warm red brick and contrasts strangely with the medieval black and white timbering.

Although the windows have unusual brick labels over them the overall effect is one of simplicity. Internally the brick wing has the same simple character.

The final stage of building took place in the 1820s. Partly formed out of the medieval domestic offices, a castellated tower was built to join the great hall to the Charles II wing.

The 19th century wing includes the main staircase and the drawing room. This room stretches the entire length of the first floor with a 16th century open timber roof and a spy-hole looking down on the great hall below.

In 1936 Rufford Old Hll was transferred to the National Trust by Lord Hesketh.

Included in his gift, a collection of arms and armour and 17th century oak furniture add much to the house's atmosphere. The richly carved court cupboards and oak settles demonstrate the skill of the local craftsmen.

Outbuilidings at the hall now house the Philip Ashcroft Folk Museum.

This unique collection of implements, objects and costumes illustrate village life in this part of Lancashire since the days when Rufford Old Hall was first built.