There is a place where poplars grow
To the tune of nature’s thrall;
Whose acres English Kings bestow
Upon a bloodline’s noble flow,
& so, my friends, we’ll come to know
The Towneleys of Towneley Hall.
The grand, old mansion of Towneley
Stands tall & ever holy;
As in its tranquil sacristy,
Come trace its noble history,
Thro’ Lwlphus Cutwolfe’s ancestry
To Spartinglas of Whalley.
The Towneleys are a noble breed,
Knelt with monarchy, servile;
Serving the Crown in debt & deed,
From Agincourt to Berwick’s Tweed,
At length they felt their fame did need
A suitable stately pile.
The South Wing took a while to rise,
Built from the bricks of Bowland;
From turrets scraping sacred skies
& glassy windows for proud eyes,
Twas perfect place to praise & prize
The all-surrounding moorland.
The country flows in valleys deep,
Mid Pennine country raising;
Where gorse & brier hug the steep,
& reedy meadows feed the sheep,
Where roses from the greaves slow creep
To Turf Moor’s common grazing.
Sir Richard Towneley’s son was sent
To the Collegiate at Rome;
Twas there young Charles heard parliament
Had struck the king with sore intent,
Being loyal, of royal bent,
Dropping books he hurries home.
Prince Rupert led his mighty force
To Marston Moor in the rain,
Charles Towneley charg’d his sable horse
Bezerking like the war-craz’d Norse,
Alas his luck has run its course,
All mud-stuck he slid down slain.
That night his Mary reach’d the moor
To find her husband’s body;
Ploughing thro’ warfare’s awful gore,
She found a figure sprawl’d on floor,
some sword-slash thro’ his broad chest tore
& all his clothes were bloody.
She took her lov’d one to Towneley,
& found their lands were forfeit;
Being the price of loyalty,
As Parliament seize property,
Reducing noble ancestry
As however they saw fit!
Despite the loss of many lands
From Hapton up to Barley,
The Royal Stuart still commands
The Towneley’s passion, as it stands
For loyalty, & joins the clans
Adoring bonnie Charlie.
At Manchester Francis Towneley
Met that young, bewitching smile;
Joining the march down to Derby
& back again, the enemy
Hard at their heels, him desp’rately
Was order’d to hold Carlisle.
His was a forlorn garrison,
For Carlisle, of course, did fall;
Off Francis carted to London,
The gloom of Newgate’s doom-prison;
After the axe his skull was won
For the tombs at Towneley Hall
As Jacobites all fled to Rome,
With them went this Charles Towneley,
Inspired there by Saint Peter’s dome,
Thro’ church & workshop he did comb
& dug & bought & brought back home
Soft treasures of Italy!
Now Peregrin, of noble heart,
Takes up the seat at Towneley;
In its long progress play’d great part,
On renovations made a start,
Placed his rare grandfather’s art
In a plush, red gallery.
Now Burnley’s spreading up the hills,
Abloom with church & chimnies;
Whose rows of rooves & window sills,
Hous’d thousands for the mines & mills,
Whose smoke the valley mostly fills
& only clears on Sundays.
All Burnley’s ever honest folks
For the Colonel up their thumb;
Charles Towneley was the best of blokes,
Who shar’d their troubles & their jokes
Whose Butterfly had won the Oaks –
Enter chestnut Kettledrum.
In him all Burnley held high hope
As he chases great Dundee;
Racing for Towneley & the Pope,
Round Tattenham he took the slope,
With coasting force no horse could cope,
His blaze first past the Derby.
Back north the news did swiftly steer
Upon the wire electric;
Saint Peter’s Bells began the cheer,
Such was the spangling atmosphere
That when the Bull gave out free beer
All the town got paralytic.
Lady O’Hagan last to greet
The morning moors round Towneley,
As local councils voting meet
Dissenting voices feel defeat,
Eighteen thousand paid for the seat,
For evermore, for Burnley.
Lands lovely add to Burnley’s streets
Down Tod’ Road from Foldy Cross;
Where scratch & scratchy golf competes
By football & cross-country meets;
Come picnic by the Hall’s fine treats
& its grandiose emboss.
Friends, if you ever sense Towneley
Twinkling in heart & soul;
Start thinking of your fam’ly tree
& trace your genealogy,
You never know, you just might be
A Towneley of Towneley Hall.