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The History of Nelson House

A Brief History of Nelson House,by Stephen D Gilliver

Nelson House was built in 1805. George III was King of England, William Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister and Europe was in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars. Admiral Horatio Nelson dashed Napoleon's plans in a naval battle at Cape Trafalgar off the Spanish coast on the 21st of October. Lord Nelson died as the foundations for Nelson House were prepared.

For the better part of the next sixty years, the property was the home of the Holgate family. The land on which it stands was part of the Pickop Farm that stood on the site now occupied by Greenhill Club in Manchester Road. From around 1400, the Tattersall family owned 69 acres that included Pickop Farm and an adjoining farm called Hoodhouse. The estate was divided and sold in the 17th century with the Halsteds of Bankhouse securing Pickop Farm, which, in 1729 was passed to the Halsteds of Rowley.

The earliest document concerning the building is a Deed of Covenant dated 3rd April 1806. This relates to the completion of the sale when Messrs. Lawrence and Nicholas Halsted, gentlemen, sold the land to Mr. John Holgate, merchant, for 309.00. Other documents dating from 1840 show that the property remained in the hands of the Holgate family until 1862 when the estate was broken up and sold at public auction. Nelson House passed into the hands of William Roberts, cotton spinner, of Thorney Holme in Pendle Forest, and other plots of land were sold to Thomas Sutcliffe of Brownhill, Burnley.

Planning permission was granted in June 1876 for the addition of billiard rooms, and the building became the home of the Liberal Reform Club for the next forty-seven years. Planning permission was granted in May 1894 for the erection of a new conservatory, and from about this time, until 1930, this was used as a dance hall and catered for balls, functions and private parties. For a time, the conservatory was the headquarters of the "Burnley Wheelers". The building became known as one of several "Assembly Rooms" which were situated throughout the town. The Club's tenancy continued until 1921 when the property was purchased by the Burnley Masonic Hall Company.

The Burnley Masonic Hall Company Limited was incorporated in November 1920. The first Masonic meeting at Nelson House was held at 7.00pm on Tuesday 9th January 1923 and took the form of a united meeting of the three Craft lodges that met in Burnley at that time. Nelson House has served as Burnley's Masonic Hall ever since.