Gordon Wilkinson paints Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham

PUBLISHED: 11:59 10 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:20 20 February 2013

Gordon Wilkinson paints Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham

Gordon Wilkinson paints Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham

Watercolour artist Gordon Wilkinson sets up his easel in the grounds of Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham

Padiham is a well-established feature of the Lancashire tourist trail but many visitors do not make it into the town. Gawthorpe Hall attracts people from far and wide to see its imposing Elizabethan splendour but too few of the people who venture down the halls long tree-lined drive go on to explore the town itself.

Padiham could well be the history tourists ideal location. As well as Gawthorpe Hall, theres the house Oliver Cromwell stayed in during the Civil War, the marvellous art deco town hall, fascinating churches and a labyrinth of ancient winding lanes and alleys.

The centre of the ancient market town has been made a conservation area and even its less illustrious buildings have stories to tell - the town was transformed by the Industrial Revolution and reminders are everywhere, in the stone-built terraces and the mills which now stand silent.

Gawthorpe Hall however is the jewel in Padihams crown. Built in the early 1700s for the Shuttleworth family, the house was re-designed in 1850 by Charles Berry - who was knighted by Queen Victoria two years later when he completed work on the interiors of the Palace of Westminster.

The hall remained in the Shuttleworth family until 1970 and is now owned by the National Trust, who run it in partnership with the county council. As well as impressive collections of beautiful furniture, several rooms display work from an international collection of needlework.

The grounds - which will host a motorcycle show next month and open air theatre productions in July are open from 10am-6pm all week and until the end of October, the house will be open from 1-5pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and at weekends. The tea room (open in the afternoons, when the hall is open) serves arguably Lancashires best scone.

But despite its obvious historical charms Padiham is far from being a living museum, the town has more than its fair share of contemporary cafes and stylish shops. Most of the shops - many of them small independent stores - are gathered along the high street, where you will also find a number of restaurants and pubs.

The road to Padiham

Where it is: Padiham stands in the east of the county, just to the west of Burnley. The nearest railway stations are Hapton and Burnley Barracks, each about two miles away. If you have a satnav, BB12 8BA should take you to the town centre.

Where to park: There are a number of car parks around Padiham, and parking at council owned sites is free.

What to do: Once youve soaked up the history, take lunch in one of the cafes and enjoy a peaceful walk beside the river Calder which winds its way gracefully past Gawthorpe Hall and through the town.

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