VISITOR figures show that the number of people going to Chorley’s Astley Hall and Coach House has soared in the past year.

Nearly 50,000 people visited between April and December 2014, which is more than 6,000 more than the previous year.

More activities and events all year round like Picnic in the Park, Astley Illuminated and the opportunity to meet Father Christmas as well as exhibitions including Brainstorm: The Art of Bryan Talbot and Astley Then and Now, have helped to pull in the crowds.

Additionally, the Chorley Remembers Experience in the Coach House attracted thousands of visitors in the year the country commemorated 100 years since the start of World War I.

Councillor Bev Murray who oversees the Astley complex is delighted that more people are taking up the opportunity to appreciate a wonderful historic attraction.

She said: "This past year we have also seen many visitors from outside the area discovering the hidden treasures of Astley Hall and returning again and we’d like to thank everyone who continues to support the attraction.

“November was the best month in the year with over 8,000 visitors to Astley Hall alone and it’s events like Astley Illuminated and Derian House’s Winter Sparkle that open it up to a whole new audience.

"Plus in June 2014, Astley Hall was awarded a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor for consistently gaining top reviews from visitors.”

Astley Hall is now closed until March for conservation and restoration work to ensure the historic house remains for future generations to enjoy.

However, the newly restored Farmhouse gallery, the Coach House, Walled Garden and Astley Park are open as usual.