The large wooden front door and Entrance Hall date from the 1600s. On display here is a portrait of Sir Lees Knowles who bought Turton Tower in 1903 with the money he made from Lancashire coal. Sir Lees Knowles and past owners entertained friends at Turton Tower and the Entrance Hall welcomed and impressed visitors – as it continues to do so today.
The Morning Room or Library is located on the ground floor, within an extension of a strong wooden cruck frame added to the original stone tower in the 1530s. After buying Turton Tower in 1835, James Kay started to restore and adapt his home to look like an Elizabethan manor house. In this room he added wooden panelling in the style of the 1600s.
The Morning Room features a marble and copper backed fireplace in the fashion of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a design style that was heavily influenced by medieval forms and colours. Above the fireplace are the coats of arms of families that have owned Turton Tower – Orrell, Chetham, Freres and Kay.
The Dining Room is located in the oldest part of the building – the base of the old stone tower. This room was dramatically altered after James Kay became owner of Turton Tower in 1835. Kay was a keen antiquarian and wanted to recreate a dining room of the 1600s. The oak panelling was bought from the sale of interiors at Middleton Hall near Manchester at the time of its demolition in 1844. The windows contain excellent examples of painted glass made in Switzerland in the early 1600s.
The Victorian Tea Room is located in what was once the kitchen at Turton Tower. The location of the kitchen remained unchanged for over 500 years.
Extensions and alterations, like the addition of the cast iron stove and range in the 1800s, kept the kitchen in good working order to feed the families living here across the centuries. The pantry or buttery leading off from the kitchen still has stone slabs and a stone floor used for storing food and keeping it cool prior to electric refrigeration.
Chapel and Priest Room
Now known as the chapel, this bedroom may have been used as a chapel in at the time the Orrell family lived here in the late 1500s and early 1600s. John Orrell married Alice, daughter of Christopher Anderton of Lostock Hall, a Catholic family.
Chained books once belonging to Sir Humphrey Chetham can be seen in what has become known as the Priest Room. Sir Humphrey Chetham, owner of Turton Tower from 1628, was one of the most successful merchants and landowners in the region. On his death in 1653, collections of his books were given to local churches and a new library was founded in Manchester, now called Chetham’s Library. Chetham’s has been in continuous use as a free public library for over 350 years and continues to be a significant centre for study and research.
The Drawing Room was a place for relaxation and entertainment. From the 1840s the Kay family and their guests amused themselves here by enjoying games at the card table, playing the piano, sewing by the fire and admiring the paintings on display. The oak panelling here is also from Middleton Hall, and a new plaster ceiling was installed showing a Tudor rose design.
In this bedroom visitors can see an oak bed, made some time around 1590. Carved into the oak is the coat of arms of the Courtenay family of Devon. James Kay bought the bed in the 1840s, attracted by its age and motivated by his desire for historic things. This bed would have also appealed to him because its association with such a distinguished aristocratic family.
Find the date carved into the foot of the bed. This detail was probably added to the bed shortly before it was transported to Turton Tower.
Bradshaw Room and Dressing Room
In the 1860s another storey was added to Turton Tower to create more bedrooms for family and guests. This bedroom is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style of the late 1800s. The wallpaper and curtains are designed by the leading designers for the movement, William Morris and George Frederick Bodley.
The fireplace and furniture came to Turton Tower as a gift from Colonel Hardcastle of Bradshaw Hall in Bolton, a country house partly demolished in the 1940s.
The Chetham Room is at the top of the stone tower. The walls were extended up by the Orrell family in the 1500s. Evidence of this can be seen from both the outside and inside of the tower. Once divided into two connecting rooms, the Kay family played billiards here in the late 1800s.
For a more detailed and comprehensive history of Turton Tower, “Turton Tower and its Owners” by W. G. Sharples is available to buy from the Tower. £8.99