It's very difficult to dig up much information at all on this enigmatic building but we have discovered that it was built in 1869 by a Mr. Henry Hoyle Hardman. Henry was the son of George Hardman, a successful local businessman, who built Oakhill House - RIGHT - now the Rossendale Museum, in Rawtenstall. In view of the fact that Horncliffe House as it was then known was such a grand home, it is clear that Henry was also a successful businessman just like his father and in fact he owned Hardman Mill in Newhallhey which is just down in the valley and practically overlooked by the house. Henry died in 1888 but his wife Emily continued to live there until she died a few years later in 1896. The house passed to Annie Hardman (their daughter?) and she lived there until about 1903. The house and it's contents were then sold to a Mr. Roland Rawlinson who owned Myrtle Grove Mill in Waterfoot.
And now we have a huge gap with no idea who, what or when until we reach the 1960s!
At this time Lancashire County Council operated a care home for the elderly at the house until some time in the 1980s. Whilst it was a care home it was still known as Horncliffe House however when it was subsequently sold on in 1993 it was turned into a hotel and function venue, being re-named Horncliffe Mansions in the process. The operators at that time were Horncliffe Mansions Ltd. but the limited company was dissolved on 23rd. June, 2009 and the hotel closed. It appears now that it has passed back into private ownership once again and apparently the new owner, a property developer, is waiting to hear if he is to be granted permission to change the house back to a residential dwelling. An amusing anecdote was quoted in the local paper - apparently the owner started work in his youth as a florist's assistant and used to deliver flowers to the house when it was a care home. He always said at the time that he would love to own the house!
To the rear of the building there is a large, modern, single story function room big enough to seat several hundred people, and literature within the house itself confirms its use as a hotel quite unequivocally. Strangely though a document in the conservatory hinted at a prospective change of use to an old people's home but the document does NOT appear to be from the time period when the house actually functioned in that role! A planning application lodged with Rossendale Borough Council in 2008 states that the owner wished to convert the building from a hotel to a dwelling house, but that was during the period of ownership of the house by the hotel company, not by a private individual!
Abandoned then circa 2008/9 - just three years - so why on earth has the owner let it fall into such an appalling state of dereliction in such a short time?
A further enigma is the number of old Jaguar cars standing on the lane at the top of the grounds next to a very old, and boarded up, cottage and what appeared to be recently deployed flood precautions on that lane. This shows that someone is still going up to the house periodically.
So... after a morning of searching on t'internet all we have managed to find out is that Doctor David Bellamy - he of, "Gwapple me gwapenuts" fame - attended a protest meeting at the hotel back in 2004 when the local NIMBYs decided they didn't like the idea of the nearby moors being used as a site for those appalling windmill power stations. His presence clearly didn't do much good though because they just went ahead and built them anyway!
It's quite saddening to see this magnificent building rotting away. TJ and I lived in Rossendale for years and we used to regularly pass the place. It always seemed to be thriving and although we eventually moved a little further away to Darwen we were quite surprised to drive past recently and see the front all boarded up. When I was 18 or 19 I used to compete in motorcycle trials up at nearby Horncliffe Quarry and when I passed the house I would always look at it with longing!
All things considered then Horncliffe Mansion is a very strange place with buckets of extra added mystery!