The Whalley Abbey vestments at Towneley are part of a set of High Mass vestments, said to have been made for Whalley Abbey around 1425 and brought to Towneley for safekeeping by Sir John Towneley (1473-1540) around 1537 at the time when the Abbey was being closed down by the orders of King Henry VIII.
The chasuble and one of the dalmatics were offered at auction by a descendant, Maurice, 3rd Lord O'Hagan, in 1922 and purchased by Burnley Corporation and returned to Towneley. In September 1923, Lord O'Hagan offered to sell Burnley Corporation the second dalmatic but the offer was refused and it was eventually purchased by Sir William Burrell.
Probably the earliest public display of the Whalley Abbey vestments, rather than as part of a church service was at Burnley Mechanics in December 1894, as part of 21st anniversary of the founding of the Burnley Literary and Scientific Club. Lady O'Hagan took them from Towneley in 1902 to Pyrgo Park in Essex and they were displayed in London at the Burlington Fine Arts Club exhibition of English Embroidery in 1905. This was the first major exhibition of Opus Anglicanum and the Whalley Abbey vestments were also on display in the next major exhibition on this theme at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1963.