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Published January 20th 2018
Could you see yourself wearing these dresses?
Located on Burnley Road, Padiham near Burnley, Gawthorpe Hall is one of those gems you will stumble across as you meander your way through the beautiful and sprawling Lancashire countryside.
As you drive up the narrow lane towards the Hall, this beautiful Elizabethan manor is imposing and oozes charm and respectability.
It is not hard to understand why it is referred to as "Downton of the North'. Gawthorpe Hall was redesigned in the 1850s by Sir Charles Barry, who was also the designer of the Houses of Parliament and Highclere Castle, most lately used as the set for Downton Abbey.
Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham. Photo: Bruce Vandersluis Images
Gawthorpe Hall began as a pele tower, built by the Shuttleworths in the 14th century as a defence against invading Scots. The Hall as it is today was built up around the tower during the 15th century by brothers Richard and Lawrence Shuttleworth (Reverend) with the foundation stone finally being laid on 26 August 1600. During the extension, the original pele tower was raised a further two stories and this remains evident with the beautiful and timeless central staircase winding its way within and quite obviously displaying the original outer walls, doorways and windows. It is reported that Richard has been seen about his ancestral home.
Inner Staircase and Evidence of Original Outer Walls. Photo: Bruce Vandersluis Images
The Hall passed from family member to family member and included a period where it was leased to tenants until it passed to Janet Shuttleworth, an infant at the time, following the death of her father Robert in 1818. It wasn't until 1842, when Janet married Sir James Kay of Rochdale, that she returned to the Hall and restorations and improvements were carried out. At this time, Janet's husband added the Shuttleworth surname to his own and the couple became known as the Kay-Shuttleworth's.
In 1850 and again in 1855, James and Janet hosted Charlotte Bronte, making the Hall a popular stop for those following the Bronte Way. Janet and James' granddaughter, Rachel who had lived most of her life at the Hall had a penchant for the textile industry and this legacy is evident within the Hall. It is said that the Hall holds the finest textile collection outside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Following her passing in 1967, Rachel (or Miss Rachel) is said to be one of the ghosts that haunt the Hall.It is reported that Rachel has been seen hurriedly descending the grand staircase.
Example of Textile Displays at Gawthorpe Hall. Photo: Bruce Vandersluis Images
The Hall contains stunning displays of antique furniture and artistry. The main Hall is large, with fine examples of wall panelling and the panelling in the Drawing Room is original 17th century panelling. Fireplaces are large, abundant and a joy to examine with the main hall fireplace being particularly beautiful.
While I did not experience any spirits on my visit, a number unidentified ghosts have been seen about the Hall. One of a sickly-looking female has been seen in the drawing room, along with a little servant girl near the kitchen. Shadowy figures have been seen around the upper floors, and it is said that the spirit of a murdered young woman walks the servants quarters. The stunning long gallery has been heard to resound with mysterious footsteps and a nun is said to roam the front hall.
The Beautiful Architecture and Fireplaces. Photo: Bruce Vandersluis Images
The Hall was gifted to the National Trust in 1970. If you like stately homes of yesteryear, Gawthorpe Hall is well worth a visit. The old coach house now houses a lovely little cafe where you can pick up drinks, sandwiches, cakes and scones before or after visiting the Hall. The gardens are also well worth a visit, and at the time of our visit they were abundant with laughing, happy children and visitors making the most of a lovely, sunny English summer day.
It is possible to get to Gawthorpe Hall by train and bus with Rose Grove, Burnley Barracks and Burnley Manchester Road Stations nearby. Rose Grove Station is about 1.6 miles so a gentle 30 minute stroll if you are energetic, however you may need to get a taxi from there if walking is not your thing. Buses are available from Burnley Barracks and Burnley Manchester Road Stations with a short walk at the end to the Hall. See Moovit for more information or to plan your journey.
Travel to Gawthorpe Hall by road on the A671. From M65 exit 8 towards Clitheroe then Padiham. Parking is available on the property, with a short 150 yard walk to the Hall.
The Imposing and Beautiful Gawthorpe Hall. Photo: Bruce Vandersluis Images