The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Towneley Hall

In the civil parish of Burnley.
In the historic county of Lancashire.
Modern Authority of Lancashire.
1974 county of Lancashire.
Medieval County of Lancashire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SD85433086
Latitude 53.77387° Longitude -2.22254°

Towneley Hall has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House, and also as a Pele Tower although is doubtful that it was such.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


C14 pele forms eastern wing of Hall. (Gibson)

Country house, formerly the seat of the Towneley family, now museum and art gallery. Begun c1400, completed in quadrangular form c1500; north-west wing rebuilt c1626, and widened by additions to the outer side c1737; north-east gatehouse range demolished in early C18 (Listed Building Report)

TOWNELEY HALL stands in a low situation about a quarter of a mile from the west bank of the Calder and about 1 miles south-east of Burnley. It is a large three-story stone mansion built on three sides of an open court and facing north-east, dating originally in all probability from the 14th or early 15th century, but altered so considerably from time to time since that little or nothing of the early building is now visible. Dr. Whitaker, (Whittaker) writing about 1788, states that the house was, 'until about a century ago,' a complete quadrangle with four turrets in the angles, and that on the north-east side, which was then as now open, there were 'two turrets in the angles, a gateway, a chapel, and a sacristy, with a library over. These,' he goes on to state, 'were removed by Charles Towneley about a century ago and placed in their present position, having been preserved entire.' This statement of Whitaker's as to the existence of a north-east wing seems to be the only evidence as to the former plan and appearance of the building, the structure itself showing no signs of any such violent alteration, which it seems reasonable to suppose if carried out at so comparatively recent a date as the end of the 17th century would have left some trace. It has been suggested, however, that the gate-house and chapel may have existed in a detached building whose removal would not cause mutilation to the adjoining wings, (Taylor) but so much work has been done externally in the 18th century that it is extremely difficult to come to any definite conclusion as to what the building was like at the time when the destruction of the north-east side of the quadrangle is said to have taken place. The plan of the house now consists of a south-west or middle wing containing the great hall measuring externally 86 ft. in length by 34 ft. in width, with long north-west and southeast wings at right angles forming the three sides of a courtyard measuring 80 ft. by 76 ft. This probably forms more or less the plan of the mediaeval house, or part of it if it were entirely quadrangular, and the south-east wing apparently retains its original walls, 6 ft. thick, all round. This wing is 95 ft. long by 40 ft. wide, and like the wing opposite stands in front of the centre block some 75 ft., the internal angles being emphasized by square staircase towers 15 ft. on the face, but with a projection of only 4 ft. in front of the main wall. The north-west wing is of the same length and may have been originally of equal width, the outer wall on the west side, which is 6 ft. thick, being apparently of equal date with those of the south-east wing. The north-east wing was, however, rebuilt by Richard Towneley shortly before his death in 1628, and the wall facing the courtyard is of that date. At a later period William Towneley, who died in 1742, added a new building on the west side against the old outer wall which had been retained in the rebuilding, increasing the wing to its present width of 53 ft. The junction of the old and new work is not observable on the front elevation, the end wall having been presumably entirely re-erected at that time, but at the back it stands slightly in front of the older wall. The back portion of the outer building, however, which in the upper floor contains the chapel, is said to have been part of the old north-east wing removed at the time of its destruction to its present position by Charles Towneley, the stones having been marked and numbered. However that may be, (The evidence of the masonry hardly supports the traditionthe north-west wing has now as completely lost all traces of its mediaeval appearance as that opposite, the ancient work there visible belonging to the 17th century. In the rebuilding of 1628 the wall facing the courtyard may have been erected within the line of the older wall, supposing the wings to have been originally of equal width, and the courtyard space consequently increased, but this is not certain, the wings possibly having been of unequal width from the first. (VCH)

Gibson's account of a pele tower is not really substantiated by other authorities although it is not impossible there was an dwelling here before the courtyard house of c. 1400 was built and the tenurial history would not be inconsistent with that dwelling being a pele tower. The C15 courtyard house was a major building (with a deer park) and when it had its gatehouse and corner turrets would have been quite castle-like, and probably deserving of the fortified manor house label.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape           Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact