Astley Hall: Entrance fees will be introduced when the venue reopens in spring


The Grade I listed site closed for a major refurbishment in 2020, but is due to reopen in late April.

Charges will then be introduced to make the local landmark more sustainable for Chorley Council to maintain in the future – and to generate a new source of revenue for the authority.

However, residents of the borough will pay a significantly reduced fare compared to people traveling beyond Chorley’s borders to view the 17th century building.

Register to our daily newsletter

The newsletter mute the noise

Part of Astley Hall’s original stonework has been uncovered during a major 18-month renovation

Read more

Read more

Astley Hall: Before and after photos of the renovated monument as it prepares for…

Residents will be able to purchase annual passes – entitling them to access for a full year – priced at £5 for adults, £2.50 for children and £15 for families of two adults and up three children.

A single visit will be priced at £2.50 for Chorley adults and £1.50 for local children.

Everyone under 5 will get free entry, as will people with disabilities and their carers, whether they live in Chorley or outside.

Those not resident in the borough will be charged £5 for adults, £3.75 for concessions and £3 for 6-16 year olds. A family day pass – for two adults and up to 3 children – will cost £10 or £25 for an annual version, while adult annual passes will be priced at £15.

One in 10 people traveling by coach will enter free and there will be no change to the price of education trips from £3-4 per person, with a minimum session fee of £80.

The opening hours of the site will also be extended. Before the pandemic, the hall was generally only open on weekends, except on certain weekdays during the summer holidays – but it will now welcome visitors from Wednesday to Sunday.

The attraction – which gained global exposure when it served as the backdrop for the G7 Speakers’ Summit hosted by Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle last September – will also be further promoted as a wedding venue.

Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said the authority did not want to ‘charge just for the sake of charging’.

He told a council meeting where the pricing was agreed by a majority of members that the fee schedule was intended to ‘be cheap for Chorley residents, especially families’.

“We have regularly reviewed over the past few years…different pricing structures for Astley Hall as it has been…significantly cheaper to visit than other similar venues.

“We wanted to come up with a proportionate system that would both help pay for some of the running costs of an expanded Astley Hall in the future and also allow us to keep [up] exposure levels [and keep] the level of investment going on,” added the Labor leader.

However, the Conservative opposition group said the plans could act as a ‘barrier’ for visitors to the borough and further afield – and instead called for a system of voluntary contributions like those sought by museums in major cities .

Aidy Riggott, Buckshaw and Whittle Ward member, said: ‘I am very uncomfortable saying we would spend £1million of…taxpayer money to renovate and bring the hall back into the wonderful position she finds herself in – and then… having to charge [people] enter.

“I think it would grow our [visitor] much stronger economy saying its a free destination…[and people] could spend more while they’re here, we could get more visits and that would have a ripple effect – [it] could generate more bookings for weddings [or] more than one use for space.

Tory group leader Martin Boardman said there were other ways to increase revenue, such as through the premium that could be made on leaflets sold to accompany people on their way around the hall.

He also claimed that people are “willing to contribute voluntarily instead of being forced to pay for [entry].”

However, Cllr Bradley said evidence from Astley Hall itself suggested otherwise, with donations from visitors amounting to just £5,000 in the last full year before the pandemic.

“The biggest feedback we’ve had…is people saying [they] was surprised it was so nice and [were] surprised we didn’t actually charge for it.

“[The proposed charges are] a small amount is less than most similar attractions elsewhere [and] totally worth it, in my opinion.

Documents presented at the meeting reveal that the hall receives around 40,000 visitors a year, which the council plans to reduce with the introduction of fees. Based on around 15,000 visitors in the first year after reopening, the authority expects to generate £69,500 in total revenue, including £10,000 from the visitor shop and £5,000 from events.

After an increase in staffing costs to account for the longer opening hours, it is estimated that the hall would bring in around £37,500 for the council.

The renovation included a major overhaul of the interior and exterior of the building, including the painstaking process of uncovering some of the original 17th-century stonework that had long been hidden under exterior plaster.

The secrets of the renovation will be revealed in a special exhibition which will be launched when the hall reopens. However, the art gallery will initially remain closed while it stores collectibles that have been moved while repairs to the chalet roof are carried out at the back of the hall. The conference room cannot be reserved until this work is completed.

AT WHAT PRICE THE PERFECT WEDDING?

Weddings held in the new Astley Hall will be organized so as to be separate from general visitors, Cllr Bradley explained.

On Fridays and Saturdays, the venue will not open until 1 p.m. to accommodate morning weddings.

Cllr Boardman welcomed the venue’s promotion as a wedding destination but said the authority ‘missed a trick’ by not offering the option of a marquee at its sprawling grounds during the summer months .

Prices charged for weddings will rise, but remain well below the £2,500-3,000 that market research has suggested the council might have set as a price.

Monday to Friday (low season): £1,795 (The Great Hall); £800 (The Glass House)

Monday to Friday (high season): £1,995 (The Great Hall); £1,000 (The Glass House)

Weekend (Low Season), (La Grande Salle); £1,300 (The Glass House)

Weekend (high season) £2,495 (The Great Hall); £1,500 (The Glass House)

Prices exclude VAT, but include exclusive use of the orchard garden and some interiors for photography; use of the kitchen for arrival drinks and canapes and entrance through the park for the bride.

The room will be open from March to December (except the weekend of the Chorley Flower Show) on:

Wednesday and Thursday: 11am-4pm

Friday and Saturday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Want to see fewer ads? Lancashire Post subscribers have access to the ad-lite version of our website, which has 70% fewer ads and faster load times for a better experience. Learn more here.

Previous THREE HERITAGE CONFERENCE GIRLS TEAMS, PENNS MANOR BOYS ADVANCE IN D6 PLAYOFFS
Next Trump to speak at conservative conference in Florida where his base is strongest