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Towneley Hall from the front
|Official name: Towneley Hall|
|Designated||10 November 1951|
|Reference no.||1247299 (Hall)|
|Official name: Ice house at Towneley Hall|
|Official name: Towneley Hall|
|Designated||1 April 1986|
|Reference no.||1000954 (Park and Garden)|
The main entrance to the park is within a mile of the town centre and the park extends to the south east, covering an area of some 180 hectares (440 acres). At the southern end of the park is Towneley Hall, Burnley's art gallery and museum. To the north are golf courses and playing fields and to the south 24 acres of broadleaved woodland. On the southern boundary is a working farm called Towneley Farm with pastures and plantations extending eastwards into Cliviger.
The main entrance to the park is at Todmorden Road. The River Calder flows through the grounds. The local high school, Unity College, formerly Towneley High School, opened in September 2010, moving from its site on Towneley Holmes close to the main entrance to a new site on the east bank of the river. In order to provide a suitable vehicular access into the new school, the course of the Calder was slightly diverted.
Towneley Hall not only contains the 15th-century Whalley Abbey vestments, but also has its own chapel – with a finely carved altarpiece made in Antwerp around 1525. The hall was the home of the Towneley family for more than 500 years. The male line of the family died out in 1878 and in 1901 one of the daughters, Lady O'Hagan, sold the house together with 62 acres (250,000 m2) of land to Burnley Corporation. The family departed in March 1902, leaving behind a building almost completely empty except for a couple of tables and a few pictures in the chapel. The park was opened to the public in June 1902, and in May 1903 the Great Hall and the south wing of the house were opened for a temporary art exhibition.
Today, Towneley Hall is a museum that houses a variety of displays, encompassing natural history, Egyptology, local history, textiles, decorative art and regional furniture, together with an art gallery.
The art gallery includes a large collection of paintings, focusing on romantic Victorian and pre-Raphaelite art, with some earlier paintings. Of note are the gallery's Waterhouse paintings (including the original 'Destiny'), works by Poynter and Zoffany, and the ovine-themed paintings of 'Frozen Mutton' Farquharson.
In July 2005 the Heritage Lottery Fund granted £2 million to help fund a major programme of restoration of the Park that is still on-going. A previous Heritage Lottery Fund helped to build a museum shop, lecture theatre and offices in the footprint of the old servants' quarters. This new building was opened in 2002.
Many annual events in Burnley are held at Towneley Park owing to its size and central location, including a Balloon Festival and a classic cars show.
According to folklore, the hall was said to have been haunted by a boggart. This spirit appeared once every seven years, just prior to the death of one of the residents. The boggart was linked to 'Sir John Towneley', who in life supposedly oppressed the poor of the district. According to writer Daniel Codd, there are later stories of a strange ghostly white apparition that appears by the River Calder.
- Towneley Park Management Plan
- "Deer Pond". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Map of Deer Pond". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- Forest of Bowland official website
- John Harland and Thomas Turner Wilkinson (1882). Lancashire Folk-lore. (Reprint E Green Publishing, 1973). p.58-59. ISBN 0854097228
- Codd, Daniel (2011). Paranormal Lancashire. Amberley. p.78-79, 149. ISBN 9781445606583
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