On Sundays, I work as a volunteer room guide at Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham. The architect was almost certainly Robert Smythson, who also designed Hardwick Hall and Burton Agnes Hall. The Gawthorpe foundation stone was laid in 1599 and the building was undertaken 1600-1605. It's wonderful!
When Sir James Kay, the eminent Victorian educationist, married into the family in 1842, he assumed the family name to become James (later Sir James) Kay-Shuttleworth. His most famous guest at Gawthorpe was undoubtedly Charlotte Brontë, whom he subsequently introduced to Elizabeth Gaskell - Charlotte's first biographer. Her first encounter with Sir James is mentioned in my book Wycoller's Bridges, which speculates that a visit to Wycoller by Charlotte Brontë may have led her to some of the central themes of Jane Eyre.
Why the embroidery? Gawthorpe houses the second largest collection of textiles in the UK after the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was assembled by the last member of the Kay-Shuttleworth family to live at Gawthorpe, affectionately known as 'Miss Rachel', who died in 1967. The second image on this blog is just one example of her own, quite breathtaking work.
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