Category Archives: People

People who made a change to Towneley Park

1801 – The Great Oak West Walk


Robert Lang drew a map of Towneley after the death of Richard Towneley in 1735. The original map has been lost but there is a copy in Lancashire Record Office (DP322). This copy was made by Edward Lovat for Charles Townley (1737-1805) in 1801. The map shows a path from the Hall to Causeway End. The map is damaged, showing only –useway — wood but purchase deeds in Lancashire Record Office for the period 1719-1726 records a farm at Causeway End. [DDTO D 9/1-5] .The path was described in 1735 as “new avenue west of Park”. Charles Townley recorded it in his diary as “the great oak west walk”. [ 22 August 1801, British Museum  TY 1/16].

On the 1661 estate map this area was covered with oak trees and there was no path shown. In 1715, Richard was present at the Battle of Preston on the side of the defeated Jacobite army. He was arrested and tried for treason in London in 1716. Richard managed to get acquitted and the Family History records: “He cut down a fine wood of oaks near to the mansion, to pay the expenses incurred in his defence”. This was Old Parkwood, now part of the golf course.

Local historians have often tried to link Causeway End with the Long Causeway, which runs from Mereclough in Cliviger to Blackshaw Head in Hebden Bridge and is thought to date back to the Bronze Age.  Walter Bennett in his History of Burnley claimed “Before Towneley Hall was built, the road from Causeway End proceeded through Causeway End Wood in the Park and thence to Mereclough” [History of Burnley , part 3, 1948, page 20-21]

In 1903, a Burnley Express reporter enquired “Why Causeway End, and where is the Causeway of which this was the end? Many people, no doubt suppose that it got its name from the fact that it was here the causeway beside the turnpike ended. That is not true we believe. It is said that it was the end of the causeway which led through the woods towards Todmorden. [Burnley Express, page 3, June 6th 1903]

The Express reporter was correct that Causeway End had nothing to do with the turnpike, as Causeway End was first mentioned around 1719 almost 100 years before the building of the turnpike to Bacup in 1817. Bennett on the other hand had no evidence to support his claim for a road through Causeway Wood to Mereclough before Towneley Hall was built. Rather there is evidence that in mediaeval times, the road passed south of High Royd and on to Cliviger Mill. This is recorded in Lovat’s Timber Account book of 1836 as High Royd and Old Lane.

On the day of the opening of Towneley Park in 1902, the dignitaries after entering at Causeway End rather than walking directly to the Hall, “proceeded through the woods which surround Higher Royd Meadow. Thus the party approached the hall by passing the Foldys Cross and proceeding round the building.” [Burnley Express, page 3, July 2nd 1902] The newspaper article went on to explain that this route was along the old highway and descended to the original Boggart Bridge, where “the scene was one of exceeding beauty”.

The direct path from Causeway End to the Hall was never referred to as the Causeway in any of the Towneley family papers. Early in the 20th century, the Parks Committee simple called it the approach road. In 1913, the committee considered a complaint as to the state of the footpath from Causeway End to Towneley Hall but no action was taken on account of the subsidence in the footpath caused by the working of the minerals underneath. The committee appear to have had little further to do with the approach road until 1963 when the Street Lighting Sub-Committee discussed the possibility of the lighting of the Towneley Hall approach road with antique lamp standards. In October 1963, approval was given at the same time as plans were made to conserve the ice house.

The first Towneley Park Management Plan of 1994 divided the woodland into a number of compartments for ease of management and description. Compartment 12 was described as “the narrow compartment of the avenue through Causeway End Wood, leading to the Hall”. Before 1998, it was given the name “The Causeway” and was so named by English Heritage in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens as list entry Number 1000954 . Perhaps it is time for it to return to the name of “West Walk” as given it by Charles Townley (1737-1805) in 1801.

Monk’s Well

Reconstruction of Monk's Well in Thanet Lee Wood, June 2009Originally providing watering for young trees, it got the name “Monk’s Well” in the 1930s, when it was called a 19th century folly.

The well in Thanet Lee Wood is shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1893 but not on the first OS map of Towneley of 1848, nor on any earlier estate maps. On the OS map of 1912 it is marked as Well (covered). There is no mention of it in any of the Towneley family papers. Burnley Corporation bought Thanet Lee in August 1927 but did not open it as part of Towneley Park until 1930.

monkswell_1930On 3 January 1932, the Burnley News published an article Interesting Find in Thanet Lee Woods reporting a Burnley Corporation employee discovering an old well. It was described as having “the appearance at the first glance of a cairn of stones, but on closer inspection it is a cunningly built affair, the stones being cleverly built together“. The article continued “A Burnley man now living in Cheltenham, who has seen the structure, says there is a similar one near Cheltenham, which is known as the Monks’ Bath.

Within a few years, this “cunningly built affair” was in a state of collapse as described in an article by Ian Williamson in the Burnley Express on 3rd April 1955 under the title Mysteries Of Townley Park. By then it had been allowed to fall into a ruinous state. Here the ‘Monks’ Well’ was described as a rectangular corbelled hut, with a floor one foot below ground level, consisting of a rectangular stone trough, similar to a large horse trough. The use and age of this place was a mystery, though there appeared to have been little evidence for it being a “monks’ well”. It was very doubtful if the building was more than 200 years old. Was it a 19th century ‘folly’ built to amuse some little daughter of the then master of Townley?

stages_of_constructionThe structure then became overgrown and mostly forgotten about until the site was cleaned up by the Blackburn College Archaeological Group in August 2003. They made carefully measurements that show the well, rather than being a folly built for amusement, was a well-constructed structure whose purpose was to provide a water reservoir for use during drought.The group suggests that the well was constructed in several stages and it is likely the corbelled hut described in the 1932 newspaper article was added much later. The “cunningly built” cairn of stones recorded in 1932 could have been devised by Blackadder’s Baldric. The stones appear too clean to have been there for long. They fell down within a few years, probably not because of vandalism but due to the weather. In winter, rain water between the stones freeze and pushes the stones apart when the ice starts to melt.

The construction of Monk’s Well

Behind the stone trough, the Blackburn group found a large capstone that covered a cistern. This cistern collects water from a surface spring and channels it into the trough.


monk's well

There is no evidence to date the well but there are records showing the site was part of two fields belonging to Hecklehurst Farm until 1790. At that time, Charles Townley (1737-1805) turned the Hole House brook away from Broad Ing so that it flowed through what then became Thanet Lee. He planted large numbers of trees in and around Thanet Lee and needed to water the trees during any summer droughts. His diary entry for 11 August 1801records “opened a hole 4 foot 10 inch deep in Broad Ing half way between oak clumps and haha, all springs being low at this long drought and this hole soon filled with 10 inch deep of water“. Ponds were an alternative to wells when watering was needed for tree plantation and there were several fish ponds at Towneley at the end of the 18th century.

Edward Lovat (1773-1841), was land agent at Towneley from 1803 and continued to plant trees at Towneley for more than 30 years after the death of Charles Townley. He is another possible candidate as the builder of the covered well in Thanet Lee. At this time it was commonplace for people to create water storage systems at the site of surface springs and there are many reference to surface springs in Towneley records. Some Towneley maps in the first half of the 19th century record a pond called Lovat’s Pond on what is now Woodgrove.

green_wellThere are two possible reasons for the well being covered. First it would reduce evaporation during hot weather, second it would avoid the standing water being covered in green algae. This photograph of the trough in May 2004 shows what happens to stagnant water in sunlight.

Foldys Cross

south west side of Foldys Cross after restoration in 2009The Foldys Cross has been at the top of Lime Avenue since 1911. Latin words at the base ask us to “pray for the soul of John Foldys, chaplain, who caused this cross to be made – AD1520”.

It was cleaned and restored with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2009.

It has been the subject of much controversy since it was brought to Towneley by Charles Townley (1737-1805) around 1789. Why should this be?

One version of the story is that the cross marked the grave of a Catholic priest in St Peter’s churchyard but was destroyed by an anti-Catholic mob in 1789. Charles Townley (1737-1805), brought the remains to Towneley to preserve the memory of the Catholic priest. In 1911, the Council restored the cross to its original condition and re-sited it at the top of Lime Avenue.

In fact, much of the above story may be incorrect. For over 150 years, local historians have been arguing over why the cross was set up, why it was knocked down, why Charles Townley brought it to Towneley and what was the best way to restore it.

The earliest account comes from the diary of Ralph Thoresby, the Yorkshire antiquary, who visited Burnley in 1702. He wrote “after dinner, we rode through Burnley, where was another cross in the church-yard, but with the addition of a new stately cross erected above the steps”. [1] It is important to know that in mediaeval times crosses were not only used for memorials but also to indicate a marketplace. The market traders would stand on and around the steps. So the cross may have been set up as a market cross rather than to mark a grave.

The first account of the demolition of the cross comes from Thomas Dunham Whitaker in his History of Whalley in 1801. Here he claims it was destroyed by a drunken rabble as an act of puritanical fury and further reports it has since been removed to Towneley.[2] Charles Townley never wrote why he brought the stones to Towneley but an entry in his diary in 1802 provides a clue. Here he writes of “making some holes to plant trees betwixt the Burnley Cross and the horse chestnuts”. [3] This suggests he saw the cross as Burnley’s market cross rather than as a memorial to Foldys and brought it to Towneley as a fashionable landscape ornament. He was no doubt aware that the Bristol High Cross had been re-sited at Stourhead in Wiltshire in 1780.

LancashireLegendsIn 1856, Thomas Turner Wilkinson dismissed Whitaker’s account of the removal of the cross, writing that it was levelled to the ground by one drunken barbarian for a wager rather being due to any anti-Catholic prejudice. He added that the whole was removed by the church wardens in 1789 to make way for a new footpath. [4] This both gives us a date and the authority for the removal to Towneley.

In 1873, a drawing of the cross by William Angelo Warrington appeared on the title page of John Harland and T. T. Wilkinson’s Lancashire Legends, titled “Foldys Cross, Burnley”. In the preface, Wilkinson expressed the hope it would be restored to its original site. The 4th edition of the History of Whalley, published in 1878, claimed : “The base and head are original; the present shaft is disproportionate and out of character as well as rough base stone.” Waddington again provided a drawing to accompany this description.

hofw1878This idea of restoring the cross to something like its original condition remained in the minds of the local historians until the beginning of the 20th century when Henry Taylor described it in The Ancient Crosses of Lancashire – “This cross is alleged to have been used for market purposes. Possibly, indeed, it was built as a second market cross, … The old shaft was broken; the present one is a roughly squared modern stone, incongruous with the cross and pedestal.” [5]

In 1908, the Council authorised restoration of Foldys Cross according to a sketch drawn by Henry Taylor. The stage was now set for the completion of the restoration during 1911 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Borough. The Parks Committee took some time to make up their mind before finally resolving to re-erect the cross at the southerly end of the Avenue on the south side of Towneley Hall and this was completed on June 28th 1911.

During the 1920s, the cross was disfigured by chalk and pencil. In 1928 there was a proposal to fence it off with a suitable ornamental unclimable iron railing, at an estimated cost of £55. On January 23rd 1929 the Commissioners of H.M. Office of Works welcomed the proposal but there is no evidence that the proposal was ever implemented. If a railing had been put up it would have been removed in June 1940 in order to supply the Government’s pressing need for scrap metal.

foldys_crossWas the Council right to make the changes to the cross in 1911? The earliest photograph is from a Towneley family album and shows Emily Towneley and her cousin, Lady Caroline Molyneux, decorating the old cross with a lantern around 1860. There are many other photographs of visitors alongside the cross up until 1911. In over 100 years since there have been very few photographs taken of people alongside the cross. If the changes of 1911 had never been made and were proposed today, they would be rejected by English Heritage, but equally any change to the existing cross would be rejected. The cross is now a grade II listed monument with the English Heritage Building identity number  467232. So like it or not Foldys Cross is here to stay.

Four visitors with Foldys Cross around 1900

Visitor with Foldys Cross

[1] Diary of Ralph Thoresby, Edited by Joseph Hunter, London, 1830

[2] History of the Original Parish of Whalley, and Honor of Clitheroe, Blackburn, 1801

[3] British Museum TY1/20

[4] History of the parochial church of Burnley, Burnley, 1856

[5] Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, Volume XVIII – 1900, Manchester, 1901.


As part of a 2013/14 Heritage Lottery funded project to explore the history of Towneley Park and its landscape some of the project researchers interviewed local people to record their memories of Towneley. 

Grateful thanks to Brenda Rochester for this interview, carried out 16th April, 2013. Research by Prue Wilkinson & Jackie Hindle South.

Brenda’s great, great grandfather was James Shackleton born around the mid 1820s and on the 1841 census he was already a gamekeeper living at Clough Foot, Widdop where now only a barn remains. On his marriage to Alice Helliwell on December 27th 1852 he was already 28 years old, still a game keeper and living in Widdop. Their first daughter Mary Jane Shackleton was born just two days later on the 29th of December1852. Mary Jane Shackleton married James Foulds and Brenda is descended from the Foulds line.

image                image

imageJames and Alice had a son born 11th June 1857 when their address is given as Towneley Park and it is believed James worked as a gamekeeper at Towneley from 1853 onwards until at least 1856. Brenda’s grandmother said that James did not live in Towneley Cottages behind the hall but in the gamekeeper’s cottage at the other side near where the present Offshoots is now. James died in the Old House at Cliviger, which was also owned by the Towneley family. 

Brenda had many happy memories of her own including the path through the golf links called the rabbit walk. She also remembered visiting the bandstand which it was felt may be what is known as the theatre.

Part of interview here

Towneley – an agricultural wonder – 1795

In 1795, Charles Townley (1737-1805) engaged Joseph Elkington (1739-1806) to improve the drainage at Towneley. Elkington was the first person in England to understand and apply modern geological principles to improve land drainage. In the year he came to Towneley, the House of Commons approved an expenditure of £1,000 to document his methods. Charles Townley was very pleased with the improvements made by Elkington and did all he could to publicize his work. Many people visited Towneley in the next few years just to look at the drainage including the Duke of Norfolk who visited in September 1798 and stayed overnight at Towneley Hall.


This drawing is based on a map drawn on tracing paper by Charles Towneley sometime around 1798. It is likely that he was tracing the field boundaries from an existing estate map. The broken straight lines appear to be the location of the Elkington drains.

Towneley, standing in for the Royal Observatory at Greenwich – 1676

Towneley sundialIn the 1660s, Richard Towneley (1629-1707) was one of the leading amateur astronomers in England. John Flamsteed (1646-1719) visited him at Towneley in 1672 and continued to write regularly to Towneley after Flamsteed became the first Astronomer Royal in 1675. The Royal Observatory at Greenwich was completed in June 1676, in anticipation of a solar eclipse on June 1st. On the day it was very cloudy in Greenwich and Flamsteed saw nothing of the eclipse. In contrast, at Towneley the weather was better and Richard was able to provide Flamsteed with the information needed for the first report from the Royal Observatory. [Flamsteed, John (1676), Philosophical Transactions Vol. 11 No. 127, p. 662-64].

Around this time Richard also started to record how much rain fell at Towneley. His systematic record of rainfall, covering 15 years from January 1677 was published in 1694 and are the earliest systematic records of the English weather. He wrote that at Towneley there was twice the quantity of rain that fell in Paris. He further claimed that the Eastern parts of Lancashire were subject to more rain than Yorkshire due to clouds driven by South West winds falling as rain on the high ground that divides the two counties. [Towneley R. (1694), Philosophical Transactions Vol. 18 p. 52]

In 2000, the Towneley Hall Society commissioned Alan Smith to create a sundial in Towneley Park to commemorate Richard Towneley and it was set-up on the south buttress of Towneley Hall in September 2001.  [Smith, A (March 2002), British Sundial Society Bulletin Vol. 14 (i) p.20-23]

The second largest deer park in Lancashire – 1577


Christopher Saxton’s Map of Lancashire, published in 1577, shows Towneley’s large park, not at Towneley but at Hapton Tower. Throughout Lancashire, only Knowseley Park, home of the Earl of Derby, was greater in size. After the Civil War, Hapton Tower was abandoned and a deer park was established on the Brunshaw side of the Calder.

At Manchester on August 10th 1517 Sir John Towneley and others were required to enquire into enclosing a park at Whalley made by the abbot of Whalley. This enquiry was also to consider other enclosures in the area including a park at Hapton (12 Hen.VII), containing 40 acres of arable land & 10 acres of wood & moor & 200 acres of waste; and another park at Towneley (6 Hen.VII) containing 30 acres of arable land & 40 acres of wood & pasture [LRO DDTO O 1/65].

The best evidence of the state of Towneley at the end of the mediaeval period comes from the Rent Roll of Sir John Towneley dated 1st January in the 27th year of Henry VIII (1535-6). The vellum roll was given to Chetham’s Library [E.6.10 (3) ] by Francis Raines in 1878. Raines published the contents in full in Chetham Miscellanies VI, Chetham Society, o.s. vol. 103 (1878). It lists Towneley’s lanes, orchards and gardens along with the old park, the little park and the intakes of the old park. In accompanying notes, Raines wrote they “may simply signify enclosures, …. No deer are named in this rental, nor was a park mentioned in the great surveys of the demesne in 1603 and 1612.” Towneley field names in the Rent Roll still in use today are High Royd, Broad Ing and  Castle Hill. Fisher Ing is now the site of Higher Towneley Playing Fields and the Chapel Lee the site of Offshoots.

Across the Calder in Brunshaw was Argam Rode and three “water earths”. Their location can be seen on the copy of Lang’s survey map of 1735 and are recorded as fields K22 and K3 to K5 on Hamilton’s map of 1661. The nature of these long and narrow water earth fields has never been described by later historians. Raines reported that Argam Rode was elsewhere written as organroode and suggested organ was another name for a freshwater ling. The Riverside Car Park now takes up part of Argam Rode, whilst the rest of it and the water earths stretch west across the land now occupied by Unity College. All this land, along with much of Fulledge, is part of the Environment Agency Flood Plains Zone 3.

Today little can be added to the Raines account of Towneley Park at the end of the mediaeval period. Stuart Wrathmell’s 1982  evaluation survey of archaeological remains in Towneley Park identified remains of ridge and furrows that may date from mediaeval times but much of the park has been subjected to mining subsidence during the first half of the 20th century making it harder for a casual observer to distinguish possible mediaeval features. A site assessment of the Triangle and Avenue in September 2004 [Professional Sportsturf Design (NW) Ltd] reported – “Visual examination of surface levels indicate that they undulate considerably, … possibly associated with mining.”

High Royd Pitch and Putt – watch out for the wolf

Before the Deans of Whalley were granted land for a hunting lodge at Towneley, around 1200, the people of Burnley were sharing land there as common pasture for cattle. Then it was called Tunleia and since then has been written in many ways including Tunlay, Thonlay, Touneley and Townley. It means the clearing belonging to the town.

The area was mainly woods and wet boggy ground were little grew. Cattle were taken to pasture on the hills in the summer and returned to lower land before winter. Young animals needed constant protection from wolves and so clearings were made in the woodland and enclosed with fences to prevent the cattle roaming. A woodland clearing was called a rode or royd. High Royd was probably one such an enclosure and these enclosures caused all the surrounding area to be named Tunleia.

The original grant of land from around 1200 no longer exists but another grant from 1273 records land owned by Gilbert de la Legh lying on both sides of the River Calder and named Weterode and Waderode.


Manuscript DDTo O/1/12 dated 1273 in Latin [Lancashire Record Office]

Around 1304, Cecilia de Thonlay, widow of Richard, brother of Roger, the last Dean of Whalley, gave to John de la Legh, son of Gilbert de la Legh, the land she held at Towneley.  John de la Legh had married one of her three daughters, also called Cecilia and John’s second son Richard took de Towneley as his surname and his descendants continued at Towneley for another 600 years.


Manuscript DDTo 25/11 dated 1303-4 [32 Edward I] in Latin [Lancashire Record Office]

There is nothing apart from legal documents to give any details about Towneley itself early in the 14th century but two documents dating from 1296 and 1305 give a clearer picture of the state of agriculture across East Lancashire as a whole at this time.  These are the accounts of the Lancashire and Cheshire manors of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. They record Gilbert de la Legh was a farm manager for Henry de Lacy and show that in 1295 Gilbert paid a man 14 pence to guard calves from the wolves on the farms in Rossendale. It is likely that cattle were prey to wolves across East Lancashire well into the 14th century. { Chetham Society OS 112 Two compoti of the Lancashire and Cheshire manors of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, 24 and 33 Edward I [1294-6; 1304-5] (ed. P.A. Lyons, 1884). }


 Barwise car park and picnic site, created in 1979, was named after Joseph Faulder Barwise (1874-1965) who ran a nursery on part of the site from about 1915 until his death in 1965.  Although I’ve lived in Burnley for over 60 years and often walked to Towneley Park along Rock Lane to the Golf Club entrance I hadn’t realised there was a nursery in this part of the park and first heard about Mr. Barwise from the podcast of the trail walk available at Towneley Park shop.  The Friends of Towneley Park were then starting to develop this history project and I decided to try and find out more about Mr. Barwise and his nursery.  I was surprised to discover that Mr. Barwise was famous internationally in the Dahlia world and that he had received countless awards and honours.

Joseph Barwise
Joseph Barwise

Joseph Barwise was born in Cockermouth and moved from Lancaster to Burnley sometime before 1911 when he is shown in the Census living with his younger brother Albert and family at Stoney Street. Albert is described as a joiner/cabinet maker and Joseph as a wood carver.  The two brothers started up a gardening business but Albert moved away from Burnley and in 1923 Joseph had become a nurseryman at Towneley Nurseries.  In a 1960 Burnley Express article Joseph says that he had cultivated the nurseries 50 years previously from a wild 2 acre “jungle” .


Working inside a greenhouse 1960 (Burnley Express Photo)

After some years he began to specialise in dahlias and his flair for hybridisation resulted in quite a number of remarkable varieties.  He had an international reputation – in 1965 many of his varieties were still being grown in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.  He was also apparently known for his roses although no information has been recorded about his achievements in their cultivation.

Medal winning group of Barwise Dahlias at Southport Flower Show 1949From a Westwell & Sons Catalogue of Barwise Dahlia (Burnley Library Ref:L35)

Medal winning group of Barwise Dahlias at Southport Flower Show 1949
From a Westwell & Sons Catalogue of Barwise Dahlias (Burnley Library Ref:L35)

He won many awards from the British Dahlia Growers Association and the Royal Horticultural Society and about 1959 was made an honorary member of the BGDA (of which he was a founder member) in recognition of his work.  One of his greatest honours was the coveted Victoria Medal from the RHS for his outstanding service to horticulture.  He named one of his dahlias ‘Burnley’ in recognition of this award.  He also received the National Dahlia Society gold medal for advancement of dahlia culture.

In 1946 Towneley Nurseries was chosen as one of 4 dahlia trial growing grounds in Britain and in 1947, out of 15 varieties accepted by RHS for trial at Wisley, 8 were from Towneley. In 1948 he was awarded the Dahlia Growers Blue Riband for new variety ‘Florist’ and his variety ‘Fortune’ gained him gold medal from RHS and NDS.



His former woodcarving career, given up for health reasons, seems to have been successful too – his wood carvings were reported to be seen in the Savoy Hotel, London; the Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh; Simpsons in the Strand and in many Scottish baronial mansions.  He continued his carving as a hobby and presented an emblem carved from a cherry tree at Towneley Nursery to the BGDA in October 1964. A Burnley Express article in 1958 shows him holding a large carved wooden plaque which he had made to hold his Victoria Medal Certificate.  He also carved in 1949 a lectern for his local church, St. Stephen’s.


Lectern at St. Stephen’s Church

 An article in 1960 refers to Mr. Barwise in ‘retirement’ but still working 11 hours a day in summer and in 1961, aged 87, he was paid an official visit by the Mayoress in Burnley’s centenary year to recognise his achievements.  She commented on a salmon-pink new dahlia that he was growing and he offered to name it after her in honour of the visit – it was named Edith Sandy.

Download a list of the 236 Barwise varieties – 28 of them named after Towneley.  It is not clear how many are still commercially available but five varieties are included in the National Dahlia Collection and Burnley Borough Council, The Friends of Towneley Park and Towneley Hall Society have acquired four of these – Bloodstone, Reedley, Yellow Pet and Winsome for planting in the Towneley Hall Italian Garden bedding scheme in summer 2013.  We are very much looking forward to seeing them.

   Winsome      Yellow Pet       
   Winsome                               Yellow Pet