Turton Tower evolved from being a simple stone Pele tower, which was built around 1420 as a defensive fortress, to an impressive and comfortable residence by the Tudor and early Stuart period. The simple stone structure was added to with timber extensions by the Orrell family transforming it to a lavish house. In doing so, however it would appear that they overspent and were forced to sell. The tower was purchased by Humphrey Chetham in 1628. The Orrell’s continued to live on at the tower renting the tower from him. During the civil (1642-1650), the Orrell’s were Cavaliers where the Chethams supported the Roundhead and this must have made for interesting times at the tower when Chetham garrisoned his troops within the Turton estate!
The Greene and Frere families were the owners in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and they continued this tradition of keeping houses elsewhere although the house was occupied for some time by members of the Horrocks family who are still numerous in this area.
The arrival of the Kay family in 1835 saw Turton Tower transformed into a romantic Gothic building. They changed the south front, built a ‘mock tudor’ extension and rebuilt the Summer House which is now on private ground but can be viewed from the tower. They supported the building of the railway nearby and created a tennis court in the grounds.
The Kays departed in the 1890s and, after occupation by several more tenants, the property was purchased by Sir Lees Knowles and used as a hunting lodge and weekend retreat. On his death in 1929 Lady Nina Knowles, his widow, gave the tower and grounds to Turton Urban District Council to use for the benefit of the public. Since then the tower has been used as council offices and since 1974 as a museum and historic house. Turton Tower is now owned by Blackburn with Darwen council.