Bolton School Girls’ Division Newspaper


Exploring Patterdale Hall: Unearthing Its Rich History!

Tucked away in the scenic landscapes of the Lake District, Patterdale Hall, owned by Bolton School, has stood as a testament to adventure and education for generations. The breathtaking surroundings of Patterdale Hall contribute to its allure. Nestled within the Lake District National Park, the center is encompassed by lush green hills, crystal-clear lakes, and awe-inspiring vistas. This picturesque outdoor activity center, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, has a rich history dating back to the 17th century.


For over 28 years, Patterdale Hall has been instrumental in shaping the lives of Bolton School students. It provides a unique opportunity for students to experience the great outdoors, learn essential life skills, and develop a deep appreciation for nature.

While Patterdale Hall maintains its historic charm, it has seen numerous updates and renovations to provide modern amenities. Comfortable accommodation, classrooms, and a well-equipped dining area make it a home away from home for the students. The preservation of the original architecture combined with modern conveniences offers an ideal balance of tradition and progress.


The center offers a wide range of activities, including but not limited to, rock climbing, gorge-walking, archery, canoeing, hiking, orienteering, and team-building exercises. The diverse program fosters not only physical fitness but also character development, leadership skills, and teamwork.

The story goes that the Lordship of Patterdale was acquired by Joan Mounsey in 1624, marking the first recorded ownership of this historic site. Joan purchased the estate from the Threlkeld Family for her son John, a miner, who later became a notable figure in the region. The Threlkelds were said to have had a house present on the site for many hundreds of years before this, but of this we know nothing.

During the turbulent times of the Civil War, John Mounsey led a brave group of Dalesmen to Stybarrow Crag, where they thwarted a Scottish invasion en route to support Charles I in the Battle of Preston. John’s heroic exploits earned him the name “King of Patterdale.”

In 1677, John Mounsey and his wife, Dorothy, undertook the reconstruction of their ancestral house, reflecting the prosperous times. The estate featured a communal hall, kitchen, buttery, and a master and mistress’s bedroom. An iconic wooden throne was crafted for the King in 1677, bearing his initials, coat of arms, and the date, which can still be seen today in the Tullie Museum in Carlisle.


Over time, John Mounsey’s descendants made significant changes to Patterdale Hall. By 1796, an addition known as the South Wing was added to the house. A later John Mounsey, however, allowed the property to deteriorate, leading to a period of decay.

In 1821, when John Mounsey passed away, his son John initiated the refurbishment of the hall, bringing it back to its former glory. The estate changed hands once more when it was sold to John Marshall, a wealthy linen manufacturer from Leeds. Marshall’s connections with the literary world, including his wife Jane Pollard’s friendship with Dorothy Wordsworth, brought the likes of William Wordsworth to Patterdale Hall. It is said that it was during his stays at Patterdale Hall that Wordsworth found inspiration for some of his most renowned Lake District poems, such as his “Daffodils” poem.

In 1848, William Marshall commissioned the architect Anthony Salvine to design an even grander house. This project involved the partial demolition of the old house, except the 1796 South Wing and the original dripstone molding bearing John and Dorothy Mounsey’s initials and the date 1677, which remains preserved.


The Marshalls played a significant role in landscaping the estate, introducing formal gardens and exotic trees. Trails were laid out in the woodlands, including a wilderness walk. The landscape, once carefully designed, now retains remnants hidden within the overgrowth of Portugal laurel, rhododendron, sycamore, oak, and birch.

The estate passed through several generations of Marshalls, with the last family occupant being William Hibbert, who passed away in 1929. Following his death, the estate was put up for sale, with its contents auctioned in 1934. In 1937, it found a new owner in F.C. Scott, although the house saw various occupants during World War II, including evacuees and the military.

After the war, Rowland Lishman, a Tyneside businessman and devoted member of the North Shields YMCA, purchased the estate in 1950. Lishman’s vision was to provide affordable holiday accommodation, primarily for urban youth, allowing them to experience the unique beauty of the Lake District. The estate was entrusted to the Tynemouth YMCA, with management transferring to the North Shields YMCA in 1988. Today, the estate encompasses the hall, self-catering holiday homes, a working hill farm, and picturesque woodland and gardens.

In the mid-1950s, the YMCA began using Patterdale Hall as a base for outdoor pursuits and appreciation of nature. Oxfordshire County Council later leased the hall, setting up a residential base for young people from Oxford. In 1995, Bolton School took the reins, using the site for their Outdoor Pursuits Curriculum.

In 2014, Bolton School became the proud owner of Patterdale Hall, and it continues to serve as a hub for adventure learning, extracurricular activities, and educational experiences. The hall welcomes various groups for residential and outdoor learning opportunities when not in use by Bolton School.

“We loved our outdoor learning sessions at Patterdale Hall. We had to get our feet wet to push the boat in and some people even jumped in for a desperate attempt to get the ball and score a point for their team. This activity demonstrated teamwork, determination, socialising and a bit of friendly competition.”

Megan Leigh, 8D


“I have worked at Patterdale Hall for almost 13 years. Every day when I drive down the side of Lake Ullswater, I have to pinch myself over how lucky I am to work in such a beautiful setting, and at this time of year with all the autumn colours, that’s even more prevalent. The work I do is varied, one day I may be preparing budgets and planning for future school visits, another, changing beds, cleaning rooms or instructing across a range of outdoor activities. With the amazing support of Bolton School, the future of Patterdale Hall is secure and we will see many 1000’s more young people benefit in the future.”


 Tim Taylor, Manager of Patterdale Hall

Patterdale Hall’s rich history and continued service as an educational haven stand as a testament to the enduring legacy of this historic site. As Patterdale Hall continues to evolve, it remains committed to providing students with unforgettable outdoor experiences and life skills that they carry with them long after they leave Bolton School. The journey through time, from a private holiday home to a cherished educational institution, is a testament to the enduring importance of experiential learning in the heart of nature.

Patterdale Hall’s history reflects the core values of Bolton School: education, curiosity, and independence. It stands as a reminder of the power of the great outdoors to inspire and shape young minds for generations to come.

 By Mariam Atbouli

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