The stone of Henry Sudell's mansion was quarried on Abbot's Brow, but the foundations were built upon his profits from the thriving weaving trade throughout Blackburn district. After his marriage in 1796, Sudell set up home in this seat from which he discharged his duties as Lord of the Manor of Mellor, and of which Blackburn historian George C. Miller observed "its nature is more that of a temple than a dwelling". As this plan of the ground floor shows, Woodfold Hall allowed Sudell to enjoy the high life of a successful entrepreneur: there are over twenty rooms downstairs surrounding a sizeable yard, and including a dairy, a brew house and a china closet which would rival many modern living rooms at over 17ft x 14 ft. Sudell stocked his 400-acre grounds with deer, wildfowl and a pack of hunting dogs, and travelled into Blackburn by in a grand coach-and-four with uniformed postillions. He also played the role of philanthropist with energy, founding St. John's church in Blackburn and St. Mary's in Mellor, helping recruitment to the Lancashire Fencibles, and supporting many of his fellow townsmen in lean times - even roasting an ox in the old marketplace at Christmas each year. When 6,000 handloom weavers marched upon Woodfold from Blakey Moor in 1818, Sudell had the pragmatism to accede to their demand for a 5% advance; and even when his high living caught up with him nine years later, Sudell left his butler with enough money to establish himself at the Fox & Grapes pub on Preston New Road.
After Sudell fled Blackburn, his grand lifestyle there was continued first by John Fowden Hindle as High Sheriff of Lancashire, and then by the Thwaites family; they owned it for a century up to 1949, when its contents were offloaded in a mammoth three-day sale of nearly 800 often elegant and valuable items. The building itself remains as a derelict but still striking and poetic testimony to the glory of Blackburn's cotton days. *
Woodfold Park contains two listed buildings: the Bridge over Arley Brook and the Ice House in Old Woodfold Wood. Click here to view the other listed buildings in Blackburn and Darwen.
The lithograph pictured above of Woodfold Hall makes the most of its rural setting, and was created by C. J. Greenwood whilst John Fowden Hindle, High Sheriff of Lancashire, lived there before 1850.
* Since this article was written, Woddfold Hall has undergone extensive renovation work and has been divided into very desirable apartments.