Built around 1626 by a wealthy Lakeland yeoman, Townend is an excellent survivor of vernacular Lake District architecture. Do not come expecting a manor or stately home; Townend is a farmhouse, a comfortable home by the standards of the day.

The house was built by George Browne, a well-to-do farmer, at the time of his marriage to Susannah Rawlinson. It was never sold and remained a home to generations of Brownes until it was acquired by the National Trust in 1943.

Over the past four centuries, the collection of objects from daily life has accumulated and changed, so that today Townend gives a vivid picture of what life was like here in the Lake District over the past few hundred years.

The location is superb, on the side of a hill looking across the Troutbeck Valley, a location that author Beatrix Potter declared was her favourite in the Lakes.

George Browne was a 'statesman', a local term for a wealthy yeoman. As such he was not truly a poor farmer, nor was he a member of the nobility. Perhaps today he might be termed 'upper middle class'. What makes Townend unique is that so little has changed since George Browe's day; most of the wonderfully carved furniture was built especially for the Brownes.

Views across the fells
Views across the fells

The house is built of whitewashed stone and slate, and the interior boasts a fine collection of domestic implements, furniture, papers, books, and woodwork accumulated by the Browne family, who inhabited the house for over 300 years. Visitors can take part in a living history exhibition and meet "George Browne" (c1900) who will tell the story of the house and its inhabitants.

There is a wood fire burning in the fireplace most days (which, given the variable Lake District climate, is just as well). The furniture is wonderful; each piece unique and many beautifully carved in a rustic style.

The kitchen is an absolute delight, with wonderful wooden chests, cupboards, chairs, sideboards, and a grandfather clock, all arrayed beneath darkened timber beams where pot, pans, and kettles hang in profusion.

Among the many pieces on display is a flintlock gun, whose absurdly long barrel looks extremely awkward to handle!

Outside there is a small range of farm buildings including a dairy, and a small period garden that really adds lovely colour.

The view from the garden
The view from the garden

Visiting Townend

If you are coming by car, I highly advise arriving immediately at or slightly before opening time, as the car park for Townend is very small and fills up quickly. If it is a sunny summer day, visitors descend on Townend like, well, no, not a horde of locusts, but it is a pretty popular place, given how close it is to major centres like Windermere.

There is a walk to the house, which is mostly level, and this actually gives you a good opportunity to admire the very pretty views across the valley. And it certainly is a good idea to visit on a bright, sunny day, as the interiors of Townend are rather ill-lit and to really get the best glimpse of the interior it helps if the sun is shining outside!

Now, for goodness sake don't let that put you off; I loved Townend. The interior was full of so many marvellous examples of period furniture, and all the bric-a-brac of daily life accumulated over 3 centuries plus, that it is a real treat to visit.

More Photos

About Townend
Address: Troutbeck, Windermere, Cumbria, England, LA23 1LB
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: 5 m SE Ambleside, off A592
Website: Townend
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Location map
OS: NY407 020
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


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