As with the rest of the Fylde Coast, it’s understood that the Lytham area has been populated with scattered hamlets since the Bronze Age, and in Anglo-Saxon and Medieval times was known as Amounderness. Again, like other places on the coast, Lytham was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Lidun.
In 1199, Richard Fitzroger gave his estate, then known as Lethun, to Durham’s Benedictine Monks, who established a priory of only three or four monks at the site of the present Lytham Hall. It remained there until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 and ownership passed to the Crown.
The manor of Lytham had a number of owners until Cuthbert Clifton paid £4300 for it in 1606 and enlarged the manor house and made it the family seat, until 1757 when it was replaced with the present Lytham Hall. By now, Lytham was a town in its own right, with a name as a seaside resort, although St Annes still didn’t exist.
In 1873, the Cliftons built a chapel dedicated to St Anne to serve the tiny hamlet of Heyhouses which lay at the northern end of Lytham among the sand dunes. Of course this became the parish church of St Annes, which continued to grow from the late 1800’s.
The Clifton’s remained the leading family in Lytham until the middle of the 1900’s, and you’ll frequently see the name in the area, with two of the main roads named after them. Lytham Hall finally passed out of family ownership in 1979, and went through several corporate ownerships until the present day when it is now managed by Heritage Trust for the North West, and at the beginning of 2012 about to embark on a major restoration programme.
For many centuries, Lytham was dependent on shrimping and fishing, and then with the advent of tourism it became famous as a seaside resort and for health cures, and became populated by wealthy industrialists from central Lancashire who came to visit for their health and then built holiday and retirement properties. Some of the oldest buildings are to be found on Henry Street and Dicconson Terrace, and all over Lytham you’ll see attractive period properties from the past, along with schools which were opened for the sons and daughters of the industrialists.
Large scale development started to take place with the advent of the railways, and Lytham still has its own station. The railway enabled easier movement around the area than on the previously poor road network, and allowed larger numbers of people to come here. The poor quality sand dunes had previously been of little commercial use, and now they were levelled for residential building – so providing huge income from land sale and ground rents for the Cliftons, and building the Lytham that we see today.
Looking across Lytham Green