Towneley boasts a collection of medieval vestments from Whalley Abbey, which formed part of the V&A’s Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery exhibition in 2016.
The exquisite set of vestments are made of luxurious Italian velvets and ornately brocaded with gold thread and coloured silk. Almost as bright now as when they were embroidered in the mid-15th century for the local abbot, the vestments show scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and the infancy of Christ.
The full set set includes a chasuble, two dalmatics and a maniple, and was first recorded in the inventory of the Cistercian abbey in Whalley, before being rescued by Sir John Towneley, a member the Towneley family, a local Roman Catholic family, who kept and occasionally used the vestments over the following four centuries.
The vestments are a shining example of the fine craftsmanship that existed in medieval England.