Towneley Hall is a beautiful House. It is normally open to the public, and, unlike a lot of todays' attractions admission is FREE. In one wing is a beautiful Tudor Long Gallery, and parts of the fabric are mediaeval. The chapel in the south western corner of the house dates from 1601 and contains a beautifully carved early 16th century Flemish altarpiece. The Towneleys, who lived here in the sixteenth century, were ardent Catholics, and John Towneley, (whose picture in the hall depicts him with his wife and twelve children) suffered much for his faith. He was imprisoned and heavily fined on more than one occasion for being a 'Popish Recusant'. Towneley Hall in those days was one of the most important Mass centres in the county, and, being so close to wild and lonely moors,offered a safe haven for Catholic Priests and Jesuits. There were reputed to have been some eight hiding places in the hall and at least two of them survive still. There is said to be a secret passage leading from the hall, but this is unlikely. It is not too hard to imagine the dangerous game of 'hide and seek' which must have taken place here in those intolerant and turbulent times, discovery leading to torture and death. We should be thankful for the liberty of conscience we take for granted today.
The rain had now stopped, but the skies were still frowning. It was a moment for decision. It was 8.50 am.- this would be my only shot at the walk this year- the nights were closing in, and I would not get a second chance. I decided I would risk the weather, even though I realised that once I got up into the moors there would be no easy way off. So at 9am we (the dog and I) passed through the front gates of Towneley Hall and set off on the long trail to Bingley.