Little Mitton Hall from back in the day

¨Little Mitton Hall Grows Up

Close by the Ribble and Great Mitton Hall, on the south side of the river is “Little” Mitton Hall built by the Catteralls of Goosnarge in the 1480s. Since 1974 the “Little” that designated the Lancashire side of the Ribble from the north side has been dropped. Previous to 1974 the north side where the original manor Great Mitton Hall was located in then Yorkshire. Since 1974 the south side hall it is now simply called Mitton Hall as both sides of the Ribble are now all part of Lancashire.

Originally on the manor land of Ralph the Red, first lord of Mitton manor and the original grantee. Little Mitton Hall as we see much of it today was built about the 1480`s by the Catterall`s of Goosnargh that at various times were married to de Mittons. The first to marry a de Mitton was Beatrice Catterall who was the 3rd wife of Hugh de Mitton, Norman lord of Mitton manor and grandson of the manors original grantee Ralph the Red.

Little Mitton Hall was built in about 1485-1495 by Ralph Catterall. It was originally called that to distinguish it from the manor hall site of Ralph the Red (Great Mitton Hall). The Catterall family had held land in the manor of Little Mitton since Edward II (1307-27) when Alan de Catterall married Lora de Pontchardon and acquired the estate by marriage settlement. The Catterall family made Little Mitton their primary residence whilst retaining lands in Catterall, Goosnargh, Wrightington, Dilworth, Dinckley and several other localities.

Centuries later the 4th daughter of Thomas Catterall, Dorothy, married Robert S. Shireburne in 1562, a Mitton descendant through the Bailey scions (the Bailey scions, became the Shireburns in 1382 with the birth of Richard Sherburne and given that surname rather than his fathers Bailey). Little Mitton Hall was deeded to Thomas Shireburn upon their marriage. The Shireburnes of Stonyhurst owned the Hall until 1664 when it was sold to Alexander Holt a London gold dealer.

During the Second World War, the Hall was used to house the officers of the Third Field Training Regiment, and dances were held in the upstairs ballroom. Today it is a stunning example of Henry VII era architecture. It is a popular hotel wedding venue and dining restaurant that looks out onto the ancient lands of “Mitune” on the Ribble River as identified in the Doomsday book of 1087.

A brief “ back in the day” history of “Mitton Hall” aka “Little Mitton Hall”


The Beaumont coat of arms at
All Saints in Whalley

 “Little Mitton Hall” as it was once called on the south side of the Ribble was not built until circa 1485` or so by the Catterall`s. The Catterall family came into possession of an original house on that site about 1309-10 as a result of a marriage between the Beaumont’s and the Catteralls as noted. That first house was replaced approx. 1485 by the Tudor style one built by the same Catterall family as we see today.


The de Mittons were lords of Mitton manor until about 1311-12 and ceased as such due to the death of their liege lord, Henry de Lacy, the third Earl of Lincoln. He was Lord of Bowland to which Mitton manor was one of the ten Bowland liberties.

As such the original Mittons were long gone as manor lords by 1480s when this structure was built. Many Mittons having migrated to the nearby Craven area to the northeast. So far as I know; none of the sur-named “de Mitton” family ever had possession of the original or replaced Tudor “Mitton Hall” there today with the exception of the Mitton-Bailey scion family members the Shireburnes who did so for about a hundred years. The location name remained as people were reluctant to change so to not disturb the findings of the Doomsday book that identified property locations with the 1087 location names.

In this case, the Saxons recorded it as “Mitune” for Williams’s great survey completed in 1087. It was this doomsday identification from which the first Norman Mitune manor family of that location took the old French-Norman enunciated surname and spelling “de Mit∼to˜n” meaning “of middle-town”. The first formal recording of the surname was not until 1215 as a result of the poll tax. Hence the name Mitton Hall was a proper legacy from the original grantee of the manor, Ralph the Red. He was the first lord of Mitton manor by charter Nov. 23, 1103, and progenitor of the de Mitton family.


The locally prominent Shireburnes of Sonyhurst Hall was, however, descendants of Otto de Mitton. He was also known as Otto de Bailey after that local manor identification when he became a grantee of that smaller manor from his brother Hugh de Mitton, lord of Mitton manor at the time (circa 1200). Six generations later the descendant Baileys then in possession of Stonyhurst Hall became known by a second new surname, Shireburne with the birth of Richard Shireburne in 1381. This was his mothers’ maiden name, not his father’s surname. She was from another local family but there was no male heir to continue that name. Thus Richard adopted his Mothers family name rather than his fathers’ surname Bailey and to claim his mother and Aunts inheritance.

Nearly a couple centuries later in 1563, the Shireburne family of Stonyhurst Hall did come into possession of “Little Mitton Hall” with the marriage of Dorothy Catterall to Thomas Sherburne. The Shireburnes sold “Little Mitton” in 1664 due to financial problems outlined below. (

Specifics; Robert Shireburne married Dorothy Catterall 1563, 4th. daughter of Thomas Catterall. To whit; “In accordance with the terms of agreement”;

Robert received the manor house of “Little Mitton” and Catterall for life. Robert Shireburne, third son of Thomas and brother of Sir Richard Sherburne. He died in 1571. His heir is his brother Thomas Shireburne (there sure are a lot of them). It remained in successive Shireburne possession until financial difficulties necessitated a sale March 8,1664 to Alexander Holt, a London goldsmith.  After that it descended through a number of families by marriage i.e. the Holt’s, Beaumont’s until purchased by an Aspinall. The Aspinall`s are too this day lord of Mitton manor and have been as such for centuries.

Note: Sir Nicholas’s daughter Catherine was the dowager Duchess of Norfolk who died in 1754. She is entombed in the cellar tomb at Mitton Church up the road from Mitton Hall along with her friend Paddington, a Jacobin. Evidently, they did not let their Catholicism get in the way of being entombed in the Shireburne family Anglican church of her ancestor and founder of that church Ralph the Red. Stonyhurst Hall eventually went to the Walls, the married name of Sir Nicholas sister and aunt of the childless dowager Duchess of Norfolk Catherine. The Shireburnes had vacated “Little Mitton Hall” long before when it was sold to Alexander Holt.

Note: There was another de Mitton connection to the Catteralls of “Little Mitton Hall” (originally of Goosnarge) around 1200. That was Beatrice Catterall (Br. 1154 d.1209) the third wife of Huge de Mitton and grandson of “Ralph the Red”. ( The younger brother Otto, (Beatrice’s brother in law), was granted Bailey manor by his older brother Hugh, lord of Mitton manor & held by the de Mittons back to “Ralph the Reds” original 1102 grant from Robert de Lacy. The Baileys eventually became the surname Shireburnes in 1381 with the birth of Richard Shireburn, son of Richard Bailey who married Margarete Shireburne in 1377.
Note: A Ralph Catterall and family are depicted (the Catterall brass) at “Mitton Chapel” inside Whalley Parish Church That chapel was built for the use of the Catterall`s and Sherburne’s. All these families are often (as I am sure many know) intertwined at one time or another. Probably deliberately just to confuse family ancestry researchers like me (

Mitton Hall is a popular wedding venue. The service is an exemplary complement to the tasteful cuisine and drink. The author recommends this to everyone for any of the above said.