Built in the later 18th century, The Kennels were designed in the style of a sham castle, with a central room flanked by two squat towers. The building also served as an eye-catcher from the bridge over the River Ribble, although this latter function has been lost as trees now block the view. Sadly the castellations are also long gone, but the building appears to have a happier future ahead.
When The Kennels were constructed in the 1770s, Thomas Lister (1752-1826) was yet to reach his majority. His father had begun to remodel Gisburne Park* before his premature death in 1761, and his mother appears to have implemented his plans until Lister was of age. As well as housing Lister’s pack of hounds, the building also doubled as a dovecote with nesting holes in the south tower. The architect is not known, but Lister (created Baron Ribblesdale in 1797) was something of a gentleman architect and may have designed the kennels himself.
The Kennels formed a picturesque trio with the pretty arched bridge over the Ribble, and a summerhouse known as The Temple. Nestled in woodland high on the riverbank, the Temple was built on a mound and overlooked ‘a glorious stretch of river scenery, towards the wide flung arches of the bridge’. It formed the termination of a drive from the house which crossed an ornamental bridge by the Menagerie (later known as the Poultry House), another landscape ornament. The Temple was probably a little earlier than the Kennels, and is thought to have been built in the 1750s. It was dismantled in the second half of the 20th century, but although only its base survives today, much of the masonry is said to survive in storage. Again, the designer is not known, but a sketch in what seems to be an amateur hand survives in the Lister papers, and two early photographs show how lovely it once was.
By the early 20th century, Lord Ribblesdale’s pack had been housed elsewhere on the estate and The Kennels became redundant. Plans to restore ‘The Old Kennels’ as a private house were discussed in the 1990s and as recently as 2014, but the idea was abandoned.
In 2015 Historic England advised immediate remedial work to save the grade II listed structure, and the current owner, Gisburne Park Estate, began the process of finding a new use for the building. After some negotiation Listed Building Consent was granted to carry out ‘reinstatement works’ to stabilise the grade II listed structure and hopefully (present circumstances allowing) work will begin very soon. The estate plans to consolidate the folly without changing its current appearance. On a limited number of days per annum a marquee will be erected at the rear for marriage ceremonies, and The Kennels will become ‘a backdrop folly’ for wedding photographs.
For Lister’s proposed folly tower on his Malham estate see https://thefollyflaneuse.com/octagon-tower-malham-north-yorkshire-spot-the-folly/
Lancashire County Council’s Red Rose Collections is a fabulous resource for images and documents. Explore it here https://redrosecollections.lancashire.gov.uk
* The village is Gisburn and the park has been called Gisburn or Gisburne over time. The present owner uses Gisburne Park.