Gawthorpe Hall opens its grand old doors for free

Gawthorpe Hall near Padiham

Gawthorpe Hall near Padiham

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Visitors to the annual Heritage Open Day at Gawthorpe Hall will get a behind the scenes look at what life was like at the “Downton of the North”.

Entry will be free to the Grade I listed hall at Padiham, near Burnley, on Saturday September 10th from noon to 4-30pm.

Redesigned in the 1850s by Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Houses of Parliament and the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, the stately home holds the North West’s largest collection of portraits and collections of intricate lace, embroidery and needle work.

Visitors will be able to follow the spiral staircase, which is usually closed, down to the basement Victorian kitchen, just as the servants would have done in bygone days.

A ‘Meet the Housekeeper’ event will show what life was like, both upstairs and downstairs.

Here, the housekeeper will be on hand to offer fascinating insights into life at Gawthorpe Hall during this period – what the servants did, what the house guests ate, and how the cooks prepared it.

As well as the special events, people will be able to enjoy all of the hall’s regular attractions, such as the fabulous seventeenth-century plasterwork and panelling, the Victorian tiles, luxurious textiles and the stunning Long Gallery.

The Literary Lions exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth will be available for visitors to enjoy for free.

The display showcases the effect that Charlotte’s friendships, especially with Elizabeth Gaskell, and her visits to Gawthorpe Hall staying with the Kay-Shuttleworth family, had on her literary legacy.

Some of the objects featured in the exhibition have been loaned from the Bronte Parsonage Museum. These include items belonging to Charlotte Bronte.

An original letter written by Charlotte to Janet Kay-Shuttleworth, after her first stay at Gawthorpe Hall, will also be on display. This has rarely been on public display previously.

Other items include period costume dress from the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection. The exhibition also looks at what Padiham would have been like when Charlotte visited. A pharmacy book from the 1830s, with prescriptions for the Kay-Shuttleworth family, is also on display. This has never been on public display previously.

Outside, visitors will be able to wander the tranquil grounds, including the small ornamental garden overlooking the River Calder.

County Coun. Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “There will be something to suit people of all ages, with new things to see even if you are one of our regular visitors.

“On a personal level, as I’m the county councillor for Padiham and I also live close to Gawthorpe Hall, I’m pleased that it is involved in Heritage Open Days.”

For more information telephone 01282 771004 or email gawthorpehall@lancashire.gov.uk

Gawthorpe Hall is run by Lancashire County Council’s museum service on behalf of the National Trust.

Normal opening times are 12pm to 5pm Wednesdays to Sundays, with last entry to the hall at 4-30pm. The museum is open on Bank Holidays.

Admission for all visitors is free for the Heritage Open Day only. Normal admission costs are £4 for adults and £3 for concessions. National Trust members and children go free.

To find out more about Gawthorpe Hall and other Lancashire County Council museums visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums