A surprising discovery was made at Southworth House last year. A blanket box, which had been left in the storage cupboard behind our cinema, was found to contain a number of old architect’s drawings of the very first building on the site. The original property, which was an imposing Victorian villa called Beardwood Cliff was built for Daniel Thwaites II, son of the founder of the renowned local brewery. It was completed in 1858 and became an imposing feature in the local Ribble Valley landscape. The Sisters of Nazareth on acquiring the site in 1917 created the Nazareth House Care Home and so began the tradition of care for older people. By the 1980s their original house was compromised by dry rot and other health and safety issues and was demolished.
There are many photographs of the old building and the grounds but the discovery of the original plans was exciting; The drawings, are beautifully hand drawn in colour, and are signed and dated by the architect, James Patterson in 1858. They cover all aspects of the buildings including the main house, the gate house and out buildings and provides us with an insight into the beauty and complexity of the original design
So, it was with great anticipation that Sister Frances, who lived in the convent in the 1960s, showed the plans to Chris Jarrey, from world renowned Auctioneers Bonhams, at the Antiques Valuation Day held a the village in November. Mr Jarrey was very interested in the plans and explained that they were an invaluable, historical record. He suggested that, after the long period of storage, they were in need of conservation and would benefit from being examined by an expert. It is hoped that the drawings can be restored to their former glory and framed to be put on display as a permanent reminder of the site’s impressive history.