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Gawthorpe Hall

OS Grid Ref: - SD8034

Imposing Gawthorpe Hall, owned by the National Trust, is an Elizabethan country house on the banks of the River Calder, at Padiham, Lancashire.

Gawthorpe Hall originated as a fourteenth century four storey pele tower, built by the Shuttleworth family around the reign of Edward II, as a defence against Scottish invaders.

The Shuttleworth family have owned the estate since 1388, when Ughtred de Shuttleworth, a younger son of Henry de Shuttleworth of Shuttleworth Hall in neighboring Hapton acquired 25.5 acres of land on the banks of the River Calder.

The Elizabethan hall was built around the pele tower by Sir Richard Shuttleworth, a wealthy and successful London barrister, began making plans to expand the old tower into a hall. The building work was completed by his brother, the Reverend Lawrence Shuttleworth and designed by Robert Smythson the architect of Hardwick Hall in the Peak District. The work was completed towards the end of 1606.

One of the most influential members of the family was Richard Shuttleworth, he was High Sheriff of Lancashire and fought on the side of Parliament during the Civil War. He was also a magistrate at the notorious trial of the Pendle Witches at Lancaster Castle in 1612 and was responsible for condemning the last witch to death. Richard acted as colonel defending northeast Lancashire from the royalists in the Civil War and Gawthorpe Hall became a meeting place for local parliamentarian leaders and forces.He won a crucial victory at Read Bridge when 400 of his men defeated a force of 4,000 royalist troops.

In 1818 the estate was inherited by Janet Shuttleworth at a young age. In 1842 she married Sir James Kay of Rochdale, who adopted the surname Kay-Shuttleworth and restored and improved the house in the 1850s enlisting the services of Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament and Augustus Pugin.

The writer, Charlotte Brontė (1816 – 1855), a friend of the family, visited the house at least twice. Charlotte and her father Patrick Bronte corresponded with James Kay-Shuttleworth and it was he who introduced her to her biographer Elizabeth Gaskell.

The hall lies at the start of the Bronte Way a linear walk from Burnley via Wycoller and Haworth to Oakworth near Bradford. Following the the death of Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, the hall was given to the National Trust.

The hall boasts a fine collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century portraits on permanent loan from the National Portrait Gallery, original Jacobean and Victorian furniture and is also famous for its textiles, collected by the last resident family member Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, an avid needlewoman.

The Entrance Hall contains portraits of Civil War Roundheads who were imprisoned in Windsor Castle. There are also portraits of Lord and Lady Derby. The ornate eight-day bracket clock from about 1725 is signed by Parisian master clockmaker Louis Mynue.

The Dining Room once the Great Hall retains its  original seventeenth century panelling and plasterwork. Two Yorkshire plasterers, Francis and Thomas Gunby, created the ornate plasterwork frieze which includes figures of Sir Richard Shuttleworth, the builder of the hall and his wife Margaret. The galleried entrance screen was built in 1604-05 by Thomas Hurdeys, Hugh Sandes and Cornelius Towndley. The over-mantel displays the coat of arms of Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth.

An ornamental garden on a terrace overlooking the River Calder lies at the rear of the house.

Images 1 and 2 courtesy of Childzy

Historic Buildings