Known locally as Wanlass How, the land on which Ambleside Park now stands was owned by a local family called the Partridges.They sold it to John and Mary Brenchley who visited the area regularly for their holidays. The Brenchleys decided to have a house built there and construction commenced in 1841.
The main differences between the property as we can see it today and the house in the Victorian period were that the main entrance faced onto the drive and the veranda was open.
After their deaths the house was left to their three sons John, Julius and Alexander but the family sold it in 1859 to Mr John Brooks of Crawshaw Hall in Lancashire. He had made his fortune in the calico printing trade and spent some considerable time creating a lawn in the front of the house by roofing over the old quarry which lay to the front of the house.
Mr and Mrs Brooks left the house to James Marshall of Portal in Cheshire, who in turn rented it out for a while before it was sold on the MacIver family in 1872, who were a family of ship owners and mercantile traders from Liverpool.
They purchased 16 acres of surrounding land and turned the house into a mansion with four large reception rooms, 12 bedrooms, numerous outbuildings, coach house, stables and three adjacent cottages. The MacIvers’ large family used Wanlass How as their holiday home, staying from July to October and making the most of the nearby lake for sailing, fishing and swimming. They even owned a steam motor launch called ‘The Dodo’.
Despite mixed fortunes the family continued to use the house every year and it was here that David MacIver died in 1907. His widow Edith moved into the house permanently and soon became an active member of the local community belonging to many local institutions including the Ambleside Nursing Association and the British Women’s Total Abstinence Union. She died at Wanlass How in 1940 at the age of 80.
After her death the estate was put up for sale and bought by a Mr Thomas Cooper Pattinson, a contractor from Windermere. The property was divided up and Wanlass How was purchased by the Midland Bank for £4,950 on behalf of the Liverpool Orphanage. Many children stayed there during the war and it was used as a children’s home until 1953
It was than sold to Mr Philip Harvison, a knitwear manufacturer from Leicester. He saw the potential for using the property as a small production unit and with plenty of local labour available set about turning it into commercial premises with two flats upstairs and knitwear machinery installed on the ground floor.
The company was taken over by Marathon Knitwear and expanded into a newly built extension in 1962. By this time 120 local people, mostly women, were employed there but by the later 1960s the size of the venture proved too small to be viable and the factory closed.
In 1971, the property was sold to a hotelier who built on top of the extension creating Galava House where the bedrooms can now be found. The factory building itself was converted into a ballroom and the name was changed from Wanlass How to Ambleside Park.
The hotel continued to trade from 1972 until 1978, when the property was purchased by the Partnership.