Formby Hall is located to the north-east of Formby in the English metropolitan county of Merseyside, in secluded woodland adjoining the Formby Hall Golf and Country Club. The present house, built for William Formby, dates back to 1523 but it is believed that the Formby family has occupied the site since the 12th century.
Over the years the hall has seen many owners and occupants. Many modifications and additions have been made to the original building. For example, the battlements were added in the 18th century by John Formby who took inspiration from the Gothic-style architecture of Horace Walpole's home at Twickenham. In 1896, the hall was modernised by Colonel John Formby who added the West Wing drawing room.
The hall was inherited by successive generations of sons of the Lord of the Manor. This chain ended in 1958 upon the death of Colonel John Frederic Lonsdale Formby whose sons had both died during the Second World War. The estate was inherited by an Australian nephew but then fell into disrepair. In the 1970s, John Moores Junior leased the hall and the lands and used it as a home to house children from the crowded areas of inner city Liverpool. In the 1980s the hall was once again disused and fell into dereliction.
It was during this period (or earlier) that the house acquired the paintings on the walls that became part of local folklore, most notably the large, striking painting of a woman's face above a fireplace on the house's west side. Executed in household paint, the face was reputed to be the centre of strange phenomena. The painting was removed or destroyed during the early part of the renovations in 1990.
After this, Richard Irving acquired the whole Formby estate. At that time it was a run down collection of derelict buildings and overgrown land. After two years of being frustrated by the local planners, he sold the Hall to another local businessman, who bought it as ‘site as seen’ without even conducting a survey and has since restored the hall to its former glory.
The remaining land was sold to other local businessmen who developed a golf course.