Gawthorpe Hall, home of the Shuttleworth family for several centuries lies close to the traditional Lancastrian market town of Padiham, in the heart of Bronte Country. A frequent visitor to the Hall was Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) one of the famous Bronte sisters.
The original house was built in around 1330. The present mansion was built around an earlier house during the late 16th-century. It is a handsome house, built to wonderful Elizabethan lines. There are gorgeous bays set with stone mullion windows covering the front of the property, the whole being set off by an imposing square turreted tower, appearing as if thrust from the roof-top.
Behind the re-creation of the principal rooms is the genius of architect, Sir Charles Barry who designed The Houses of Parliament, he is known to have worked upon some of the grandest houses in the land.
The last surviving member of the family was The Honourable Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, who during her lifetime built up an amazing collection of textiles that today are considered to be of national importance. A skilled needlewoman, she left behind her many fine examples of intricate lace and embroideries that she herself had worked. Her desire was to pass her considerable knowledge to others, she did not consider her pieces as museum exhibits but felt they should be looked at and thought over in a practical manner. She felt strongly that her work should be used to inspire rather than simply be admired. It is a fascinating collection, one that is of interest to everyone. There are textiles from many periods of history and from many lands that are a pleasure and a joy to be seen.
In the Hall you can also see engaging settings of life as it was centuries ago; see Lady Blanche Shuttleworth in discussion with her butler and cook/housekeeper making arrangements for a weekend house party in 1895. This illustrious family lived in this grand house until the 20th-century when, in 1970 it was given to the National Trust. It is now leased to Lancashire County Council.
Interesting museums telling of life in the area can be found in both Burnley and Clitheroe. The wonders of the glorious Bowland Forest are all within reasonable driving distance of Padiham, making it an interesting centre from which to explore this famous region.
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