From the Priest’s Hole to the attic Towneley Hall is fascinating with period rooms covering several centuries of life at the hall. See the cat fast asleep by the range in the Victorian kitchen, stroll along the long gallery past bedrooms dating back to the 16th century, imagine the glamorous parties held in the Regency Rooms or have a quiet moment in the Towneley Chapel.
The hall was the family home of the Towneley’s for nearly five centuries, today their stories are brought to life by our company of re-enactors who uncover their dramas, triumphs and tragedies, characters such as:
Richard Towneley (1629 – 1707) – a renowned scientist and pioneer of meteorology who was one of the people behind the founding of the Greenwich Observatory.
Francis Towneley (1709 – 1746) – the last person in Britain to be hung drawn and quartered. His body was returned to the family but his head was displayed on Temple Bar in London. It was eventually returned and kept hidden behind a secret panel in the chapel until finally being buried in St. Peter’s church in 1947.
Charles Towneley (1737 – 1805) – one of the 18th century’s most famous collectors of antiques, sculptures and gems. After is death the British Museum bought his collections and today one of the galleries is still name after him.
General James Yorke-Scarlett ( 1799- 1871) – who led the successful charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava during the Crimean War overwhelming a much larger force of Russian cavalry and receiving nothing more than a dent in his helmet.
Art for Art’s Sake
But Towneley Hall is more than just an historic house. The art gallery has stunning paintings including Zoffany’s portrait of ‘Charles Towneley and Friends in his Library’; collections of ceramics, glass, 17th century oak furniture and fascinating and unique objects which are important in their own right:
The Whalley Abbey Vestments – given to the Towneley family at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries so they would be kept safe.
General Scarlett’s Sword – dating from the Charge of the Heavy Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava, this “foolhardy attack” uphill was a success but largely overlooked due to the notoriety of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Peruvian Chacapoyan Huaco – a human shaped burial object which accompanied a Chacapoyan mummy on its journey to the afterlife.
If you’ve ever wondered what Burnley was like before you were born then take a look at the Local History Museum in the brewhouse next to the hall. Interactive displays and exhibitions of everyday objects from past times bring back memories for some and provide a taste of history to others. See the penny-farthings, dolly tubs, Victorian shop fronts and the knocker-up man and imagine what life was like for your grand-parents or even your great grand-parents.
Museums and historic houses are not stuffy and boring – official!
Towneley loves kids and kids love Towneley, there are so many good things for them to remember – the stories of the Towneley family’s life especially the gory bits, the ancient Egyptian ‘mummy’ in it’s sarcophagus, the penny farthings and boneshakers in the local history museum and ‘Bill’ the Himalayan mountain bear looking down on them from the top of the stairs.
And don’t forget the Towneley mice hiding in every room hoping not to be found; they tease the cat in the kitchen, scurry across the mantelpiece in the drawing room and invite their friends the cheeky robins to stay at Christmas. The mouse trail and quiz sheets are a great way to explore the hall and discover some of its secret places.
For older kids Towneley Hall has been brought to life with a video guide dramatizing the hall and its artefacts. Told in six episodes, the stories of key figures from the past are re-created by teenagers on video screens, and are located in the different rooms and floors of the hall.
And there’s more!
A Christmas visit to Towneley Hall will get you in the perfect mood to celebrate, the hall looks stunning when it is dressed for the festive season and it plays host to carol concerts, crafts fairs, party nights and dinner dances a perfect end to the year.