Richard Towneley (1689-1735)

waterspout with initials RT 1726

Richard Towneley (1689-1735) was the eldest son of Charles Towneley (1658-1712) and Ursula Fermor (1662-1748). In September 1713 he married Mary Widdrington, a daughter of William 3rd Lord Widdrington. In 1716 Richard was arrested and charged with high treason for allegedly supporting the failed Jacobite rebellion of 1715. The Towneley black book contains a reference to his trial at Southwark in May 1716 when he was acquitted. It tells that he had to cut down the oaks in Towneley Park and sell them to pay for his defense - "Leaving only one standing - which still exists in great vigor. - September 1844".

Richard rebuilt the Great Hall around 1726 and with its stucco work by Vassalli , it has remained unaltered since that time. Outside facing the courtyard are rainwater heads with Richard's initials and the date 1726. It has been suggested that one of the plaster heads by Vassalli on the ceiling of the Great Hall may be of him and it does have some resemblance to the known portrait. The same head is represented in two corners of the ceiling whilst there is a similar head of a woman, who may represent Mary Widdrington, in each of the other two corners.

For more details of changes at Towneley during Richard's time see Chapter 3 Towneley and the Thornton Family, c.1726 in "An Architectural History of Towneley Hall" by W. John and Kit Smith, published by Heritage Trust for the North West in 2004.


Author: tk - August 2016