Browsholme has a unique historic collection, an eclectic accumulation of family possessions spanning the fourteen generations who have occupied the Hall since 1507. Ancient oak furniture, fine furnishings by Gillow, portraits by Romney, Lely and Devis, arms and armour, Chinese porcelain, medieval stained glass and a fragment of a Zeppelin.
Browsholme was ‘H’ shaped, having a central hall with the parlour wing to the west and kitchens to the east; by 1591, when an inventory was taken, twenty-four rooms were listed including the ‘Schole Chamber’, ‘Paynted Chamber’ and ‘Maydens Chamber’.
After 1603 the front was refaced in rusticated pink sandstone and the central portico added displaying the orders of architecture, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. A hundred years later the small Queen Anne wing was added to the east, providing a second staircase, a new kitchen below and a bedroom and closet above.
The final transformation was in the early nineteenth century when Thomas Lister Parker pulled down the front of the west wing and rebuilt on the same ground plan and then erected the adjacent new dining room.
The Hall, dating back to the original house built after 1507, was once sixty-eight feet long and is arguably the finest surviving antiquarian interior in England. The many and varied antiquities on view include a buff coat s worn by Captain Thomas Whittingham, killed at the Battle of Newbury fighting for the king; the dog stirrup reputedly used as a gauge to control dogs in the Forest of Bowland and safeguard the deer, a skull believed to be a Martyr from the Pilgrimage of Grace, a peg tankard said to have been in use since about the reign of Edward III, medieval stained glass and postilions’ boots.
The Library is now most remarkable for its panelling of about 1620;
its diagonal pattern is only paralleled locally by the dining room at Towneley Hall, Burnley. The bookcases were originally intended as pew ends for the chapel at Browsholme, dated 1897, but never completed. They were adapted as showcases and contain a variety of antiquities, including a bowl from Ur, a cup from Knossos, bronze age swords, Roman glass and a group of medieval tiles.
The fireplace is flanked by portraits by Arthur Devis, the Preston painter, depicting Edward Parker and his cousin Robert; while Elizabeth Parker, the sister of the former and first cousin of the latter, is a recent acquisition. Elizabeth Parker is well known from 'The Gentleman’s Daughter’ by Amanda Vickery for the profusion of love letters she exchanged with Robert whom she married against her fathers wishes and for diarieswhich recorde her unhappy second marriage to John Shackleton a drunken wool merchant from Colne.
The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room is the principal state room of the house, formed when the west wing was rebuilt by Thomas Lister Parker in 1805. Its architect was Jeffry Wyatt, later Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766-1840). The furniture is mainly Regency, including two curved sofas, chairs by Gillow, and a square piano by Broadwood. There are paintings by the artists James Northcote, Romney, Pompeo Batoni, Angelica Kauffmann and Sir Peter Lely with a fine pastel of Oliver Cromwell.
The Dining Room, with crimson wall hangings, was added in 1807, and served as a gallery for Thomas Lister Parker’s ambitious collection of paintings. A gilt pier table, already in the room in 1819, is English of about 1760, its only parallel being in the Foundling Hospital in London.
The unusual semi-circular wine table, chairs and dining table are all by Gillow. The most distinguished painting, ‘Grouse Shooting in the Forest of Bowland,’ depicting William Assheton of Cuerdale Hall and the Rev. T. H. Dixon Hoste, was painted by James Northcote. A portrait of the last Keeper of the Forest, Robert Shaw, who died in 1807 aged 88 (recently exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery) is another of the thirteen other paintings by Northcote at Browsholme.
The Ante Room
The Ante Room contains an overmantel with a carving of the family arms with those of Sunderland, Tempest, Buller, Redmayne and Bouch; these are mirrored by heraldic stained glass of about 1805 by Mr. Wright of Leeds and Mr Harmden of Cambridge.
The Main Staircase
Remodelled by Thomas Lister Parker in about 1805 the fine carved staircase leads past a remarkable window, a jigsaw of stained glass of various dates from the 13th to the 19th centuries, created from pieces said to have come from Whalley Abbey and Skipwith, York.
The Yellow Room and The Velvet Room
The Yellow Room is richly panelled in oak by Richard Alston, the estate carpenter, who also executed the Tudor-style bed dated 1891. The decoration of the room is dominated by blue and white porcelain, mainly 18th-century Chinese export wares.
The Oak Drawing Room
The Oak Drawing Room, panelled in about 1700, in a provincial Grinling Gibbons style is without doubt the finest room in the house and used daily by the family. In the windows, which provide an excellent view across the park is heraldic stained glass, including the arms of James I. Among the paintings are a copy of Holbein’s Sir Thomas More and a portrait of an Elizabethan gallant inscribed ‘Only-Death Makes-Captains-Quayle-And-Lusti- Soldiers-For-To-Fayle’.
© 2016 Browsholme Hall