This medieval home, built in the 13th century, belonged to the Towneley family for 600 years. It’s now a museum and art gallery.
The Hall was built in the early 13th century and owned by the Towneley family until they sold it in 1901. You’ll see souvenirs of the house’s historic past as you explore its rooms, from the Victorian kitchen to the 14th-century medieval hall. You might also meet some of the former members of the Towneley family on your trip, since there’s often a group of re-enactors at the Hall. Mind you don’t say anything to provoke a duel!
Towneley also has a private Catholic chapel, which was built at the beginning of the 16th century as the main centre of Catholic worship for Burnley until 1846. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, several hiding places and hidden doorways were created so the family could continue to practise the Catholic faith in secret. There’s a story that the severed head of Francis Towneley - ‘Uncle Frank’ - was kept in one of these cubby-holes for 200 years. The head isn’t there anymore but you can see a replica of it today and guides will point out some of the other hiding places in the Hall.
There are several exhibits on permanent display at the Hall, such as an Egyptian mummy, the Whalley Abbey vestments and Pilkington pottery. The art gallery also has a collection of oil paintings, including works by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, John William Waterhouse and Johan Zoffany. Towneley has its finger well and truly on the pulse, often showing temporary exhibitions and running other events like their classic car show and Woodland Festival throughout the year.
If all that history has you gasping for some fresh air, Towneley has that in abundance, too: both formal gardens and a large woodland park for walkers and explorers, as well as cafés and a garden centre.