Townend in the Troutbeck Valley in the Lake District, is my idea of heaven. Owned by the Brownes, a farming family, for over 400 years, it is bursting with history. They kept everything. Their receipts from the village shop, their diaries, recipes and letters written by an 18th century Browne seeking his fortune in London.

The Library

There is also a Library which, according to the National Trust, has the only copies of 45 books – many of them chapbooks. Chapbooks were a small paper-covered booklet, illustrated with crude woodcuts and usually printed on a single sheet folded into 8, 12, 16 or 24 pages. Cheaply produced, printers gave the chapbooks to chapmen on credit who sold them door to door and at fairs for a penny or less. The chapmen only paid for the stock they had sold.

Amongst the books in the Library is Gervase Markham’s A Way To Get Wealth [1653]. Giving advice on the keeping of ‘cattell and fowle’, there’s information on ‘the knowledge, use and laudable practise of all the Recreations meet for a Gentleman’, advice on cooking, brewing, orchards, planting and grafting, keeping bees and diagrams on how to layout ‘A Housewife’s Garden’. Did the Browne’s create such a garden at Townend?

Mr George Browne – talented gardener and wood carver

Mr George Browne (1834-1914) kept a garden diary. He grew flowers, vegetables and herbs and had an orchard filled with apples, plums and damson. In 1909, he planted ’28 varieties of phlox, all in alphabetical order, as well as 19 varieties of sweet peas, pansies and delphiniums’.

George Browne was also a talented wood carver, and much of the furniture in the house was made by him. He was not, however, popular with his neighbour, Beatrix Potter. She described him as ‘the tiresome Mr Browne’ who ‘copied patterns [to a] splendid old bedstead’.

The National Trust

The Brownes gave Townend to the National Trust in 1948.

Cookery demonstrations and guided tours are available on some days – check the website for details.

Bank Barn

And don’t miss the barn on the opposite side of the road. No longer part of Townend, it is still in use as a farm building and is one of the earliest bank barns in the UK and one of the very few remaining in the Lake District.

National Trust Members visit for free.

Townend is often closed at weekends, so check opening times before your visit.


Read more


Address: Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LB View map Phone: 01539 432628 Length of visit: 1-2 hours
Dogs - some areas: Yes
Cafe: No
Car park: Yes
House open: Yes
House open - occasionally: No
Family friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes
Wheelchair - limited: Yes

For information on opening times and to buy tickets: Click here

Searchsearch custom icon


Subscribe to my Blog to Find Out the Latest News
* indicates required