Portraits of the Past


Project Information


From 01 August 2013

Until 30 April 2014

Artists: Catherine Bertola, Cath Ford, Caroline Eccles, Kerris Casey-St.Pierre, History Wardrobe, The Palace of Curiosities, Joanne Halliwell, Steve Fairclough, Print for the Love of Wood, Source Creative


Photo Archive: Visit the Portraits of the Past image archive.

Download: A PDF of the publication

Buy: A copy of the publication (pay for P&P only)

Download: Photo Scavanger Hunt for children and young people to do at Gawthorpe.

Download: Celebration event poster

Read: The evaluation report


Support us: We are a charity please support our work by making a donation.  You can donate via Paypal by clicking the button below.

Plan Your Visit

Project location
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Additional Information

Project blogs:


Summer activities and workshops by MPA - download

Workshops with schools by Kerris Casey-St.Pierre - download

Family history exploration day by MPA - download

Portraits of the Past

Image from the Padiham Archive

Photo Archive Site - We developed a special website for you to share your photographs of Gawthorpe, there is still time to add your special photographs to it: visit the website and add your visual memories. 

With a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund we've helped the local community explore and record Gawthorpe Hall through oral history, photography and the creative arts, in a project called Portraits of the Past.

Gawthorpe Hall is much loved by the Padiham and Burnley community who surround it. The historic property also hosted Catherine Bertola’s contribution to our Contemporary Heritage series, entitled Flicker.   We've shared photographs of Gawthorpe to develop an online archive, collected oral histories and engaged with schools and the local community.  The result is a publication called Portraits of the Past - A People's History of Gawthorpe Hall which will be widely available to the community as well as lodged in archives, libraries and museums.  The publication can only show a snapshot of the memories and images collected and so the complete oral histories will be stored within the North West Sound Archive and the image archive will be available online for the foreseeable future.

Celebration Event and Publication Launch - 26 April

We marked the end of the project and launched the publication Portraits of the Past - A People's History of Gawthorpe Hall on Saturday 26 April at Gawthorpe Hall with an afternoon of activities designed to both celebrate the project and further engage people with the stories of this amazing heritage gem.

Guests and visitors to the Hall could take a walk through the grounds with storyteller Steve Fairclough learning lots about the Hall's history along the way, while being encouraged to share their own memories of the place.  Print for Love of Wood helped people create their own prints based on sayings from the hall, such as 'Waste Not Want Not' which is carved in the kitchen mantle.  The strange delights of the Victorian travelling sideshow, The Palace of Curiosities thrilled and amused, while Betsy the scatter-brained Victorian scullery maid flirted outrageously with all the men and shared gossipy 'secrets' with all!

Around 225 people joined us for the celebration event to launch the book, which was extremely well received, especially by those who had a memory or image included. You can download a PDF of the book here; get a copy of the book posted to you here or call into our office and collect one.

Other activities:

During August and September 2013 we worked alongside NW Sound Archive and Padiham & District Photographic Society at the following events:

  • Gawthorpe Hall on 21 & 28 August - free family friendly events with artists Cath Ford and Caroline Eccles.
  • Padiham Library on 14 September - free Coffee Morning event to share and record memories
  • Gawthorpe Hall on 14 September - free afternoon event as part of the Heritage Open Days to share and record memories
  • Padiham Town Hall on 28 September - Padiham Archive Exhibition Day

On 7 September Catherine Bertola hosted a discussion event in which  a range of heritage experts reflected on Flicker and the historical research process of creating such work.

In October and November local schools, Padiham Green; Padiham Primary; Lowerhouse and Whittlefield explored Gawthorpe with artist Kerris Casey-St.Pierre and responded to the experience with her back in school.

On 12 November the Friends of Gawthorpe Hall took part in an event with History Wardrobe who look at history through the medium of fashion.

On 21 February we screened the film The Miners' Hymns at Padiham Town Hall introduced by local ex-miner Bob Clarke from the Padiham Archives.  Following the screening Bob led a discussion of mining within the local area, including that at Gawthorpe.

On 4 April a group of people interested in exploring their family history took a tour of Gawthorpe Hall and explored the Shuttleworth family history. They then worked with the Lancashire County Council Community Heritage team on how to begin tracing their own ancestors.  They also worked with artist Cath Ford on creative ways to keep and display their family trees. 


Photo Archive Site

We have developed a special website for you to share your photographs of Gawthorpe, visit the website and add your contributions.  Don't forget to give your photograph a title and description that tells us about when it was taken and why it is special to you.

Photo Archive Site

We have developed a special website for you to share your photographs of Gawthorpe, visit the website and add your contributions.