Long Gallery

  • Towneley Hall long gallery

The gallery at Towneley is situated on the upper floor of the south wing, which dates from around 1450. The earliest existing drawing of the gallery is a sketch by John Weld “Gallery at Towneley – The seat of Peregrine Towneley esq.” dated February 26th 1835.

Internally, the south wing has undergone many alterations over the years. The inventory of Richard Towneley, who died in 1735, provides the first clear description of the rooms on the upper floor of the south wing, recording a gallery and four rooms. A likely date for the creation of the gallery bedrooms is around 1700, when Richard Towneley (1629-1707) is known to have made some internal alterations. Ralph Thoresby the antiquarian visited Towneley in September 1702 and his diary records “the new apartments in this college, or castle-like house”.

The first published description of the portraits in the gallery appears in Cyrus Redding’s Itinerary of the County of Lancaster, published in 1842. Here he reported “A sort of picture gallery running the whole length of the eastern wing, contains a great number of family portraits inserted in the panels of the wainscot”. Although the gallery was called the Long Gallery in a catalogue of the paintings in 1846, it does not appear the name was used by the Towneley family later in the 19th Century.

Since the opening of the Art Gallery and Museum, Burnley Corporation has always described the upper floor of the south wing as the Long Gallery. In the first exhibition catalogue of May 1903, the gallery bedrooms were numbered Rooms III to VI, (the Green and Red Drawing rooms on the ground floor being numbered Rooms I and II). These numbers, still painted above the bedroom doors, and the name LONG GALLERY painted at its entrance, probably all date from 1903.

In 1902, the family portraits were removed to Pyrgo Park in Essex. All that remained were painted labels showing were the portraits had been. In 1903, Burnley Corporation added central heating and top-lighting to the Long Gallery. Although it was used initially for the display of a range of paintings, once the art gallery was opened on the top floor of the north wing in 1908, the Long Gallery was mostly used to display prints and watercolours.

Finally, after the opening of the Edward Stocks Massey Gallery in 1923,the Long Gallery was no longer used to display pictures, the walls instead became adorned with arms and animal heads. Within a few years both the gallery and the bedrooms were used to display oak furniture.