Tolson Hall can be found about a mile West of Burneside on Hollins Lane (just off the A591) It can be seen from the roadside here, through the spectacular gatehouse, shown below. The hall was built in 1638 for Thomas Tolson, a local tobacco merchant. Originally, the hall would have consisted of the central portion of the building perhaps with two wooden wings....however the West wing was altered and extended sometime around 1800, whilst the East wing was altered and partially rebuilt sometime around 1900.
Above. Tolson Hall from Hollins Lane to the South.
The hall contains a room with some 17th century panelling in, with a panel dated 1638, and the initials, T&AT for Thomas and Anne Tolson, the builders of the hall. Just like the Castle Dairy in the middle of Kendal, there is some late early 17th century glass in one of the ground floor windows, with the wording "God by this meanes, has sent what I on this house have spent" together with some illustrations of some tobacco pipes.
Another window has the inscription "All prayse unto his name that gave the meanes to build the same."
Above. Sketches of two of the windows at Tolson Hall (taken from A History and Guide of Kendal, from personal collection)
There are other smaller windows with various coats of arms represented in them. It is thought that Thomas Tolson built Tolson hall from the profits he accrued from selling tobacco he imported from Virginia to Westmorland. The window with the inscription "God by this meanes, has sent what I on this house have spent" probably relates to the tobacco profits used to fund his lifestyle and his home.
The gatehouse on Hollins Lane was built sometime around 1800, and has towers with turrets and arrow slits. It is of course, nothing more than a folly.
Above. Tolson Hall's gatehouse from the South.
It is rumoured that, built into the thickness of one portion of particularly thick wall...some six feet thick, a small room was discovered. As is the norm with local legends, it is suggested that this may at one time have been used as a priest hole....to hide a Catholic priest in when Protestant administrators came visiting.
The hall later passed to the Bateman family, specifically James Bateman, who was responsible for commissioning the so called Elba monument in the field a few hundred yards away.
Tolson Hall can be viewed from the side of the road.