Often hailed as the most beautiful village in Lancashire, the village of Downham is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and lies at the foot of Pendle hill.
With unrivalled views, the area is unspoiled by any signs of modern-day living such as TV aerials, road signs, road markings and satellite dishes on houses. Cars are the only giveaway.
The entire village is frozen in time as it has remained under the ownership of the same family for over 500 years – the Assheton family. The family took ownership of Downham estate back in 1558.
It is their continuing wish that the beautiful 3,000 acres of countryside remain preserved. This means modern advances are kept firmly out of sight.
Today the Downham Estate is managed by the Hon Ralph Assheton, and it is the family’s policy to rent local cottages to people who want to be part of the community, to ensure no second homebuyers leave houses vacant during the year.
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Downham’s unspoilt state has made it a favourite with film and television companies. It was one of the locations used in the 1961 film Whistle Down the Wind, and the BBC One series Born and Bred, set in the fictional village of Ormston, was also filmed in the village.
The 2012 BBC drama The Secret Of Crickley Hall was also filmed in and around Downham. Memorabilia can also be found in the village shops near the village green.
Speaking to Manchester Evening News about her fondness of the village, Michelle Brown who lives in Downham with her husband and two sons said it was a village unlike any other.
She said: “It’s so unspoilt here, there’s not many villages like this. If you took all the cars away you’d half expect to see a horse and trap on the streets.”
The historic charm brings visitors here in their droves in the summer months to explore the beautiful countryside and meandering roads around the village, with a free car park and small visitor centre accessed by a cobbled lane.
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Although it may appear frozen in time, modern-day residents and the family want to make sure the village keeps up with technology.
A spokeswoman for the Downham family said: “Downham may look preserved in aspic, but it is a vibrant and thriving community supporting a range of businesses. One example is the transformation of Brookside Barn in the village into office accommodation and, nearby, the eco-friendly Bowland Bioenergy, which supplies sustainable wood fuel products for biomass heating.”
She added: “The Estate today is grappling with how to achieve as low a carbon footprint as possible and the current challenge is to upgrade very old and listed properties while avoiding damage and ugly alterations.”
The Estate is involved in the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership project, which has included creating a new concessionary bridleway between Downham and the nearby village of Chatburn, as well as peat restoration and extensive tree planting projects.
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