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Things to do at Townend

A woman looking closely at woodcarvings at Townend
Lots of the furniture at Townend is intricately carved. | © National Trust Images / James Dobson

Townend is an atmospheric farmhouse and garden in the village of Troutbeck in the Lake District. Discover the fascinating stories of the Browne family as you explore their library and its unique chapbook collection, see recipes brought to life from their own recipe book, and spot woodcarvings created by George Browne. The house gives us a real understanding of everyday life in the 17th century.

Enjoy Spring in the garden at Townend

Spring is a great time of year to enjoy the small cottage garden at Townend with colourful and fragrant displays of spring bulbs, delphiniums, aquilegias, sweet peas and tulips. Dafffodils, bluebells and snakeshead fritillaries appear on the steep banks of the wild orchard.

George Browne was a keen gardener who loved his sweet peas, roses and phloxes. The garden you’ll see now is planted with a mix of historic plant varieties and fruit trees in keeping with the original cottage garden.

Take time to stroll along the gravelled pathways, find yourself a seat or just enjoy the view.

handwritten letter
Ben Browne's letter from London describing his working life. | © James Beck

Letters from London

Delve into the Townend archive collection in this new display. Explore snippets of Ben Browne’s life in the 1700’s, following his relocation from the Lake District to London, captured in letters sent to his father ‘Old Ben’ over a 20-year period.

A pie cooked using a recipe written by Elizabeth Birkett in 1699, Townend, Cumbria
A pie cooked using a recipe written by Elizabeth Birkett in 1699, Townend, Cumbria | © National Trust

Guided tours

To find out more about the tales of Townend, book onto one of our guided tours. Lasting approximately 45 minutes, the tours offer exclusive access in a small group and a chance to delve deeper into Townend's fascinating history. There is an extra focus on food on a Thursday and the collection in the library on a Friday.

We recommend pre-booking guided tour tickets online.

  • Townend General History Tour - Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Taste of Townend Tour - Thursday
  • Books and Library Tour - Friday

A taste of Townend

Every Thursday between 12–3pm, you can discover the delights of the Browne’s family recipe book, dating back to the 17th century. One of our volunteers in period costume will be on hand to chat about the recipes. The food created by our living history team is for display only and sadly can’t be tasted.

In a small but distinctive hand, Elizabeth Birkett filled this 57-page commonplace book with 80 medicinal and cookery recipes including meaty mince pies, bean cakes and macaroons, and a further 25 household recipes. The story the book tells us about life at the time is one of sophisticated tastes against a backdrop of rural tradition and superstition.

You can read a full transcription of the book here.

Safety notice

Please note that although the food isn't to be eaten, we do have real food on display containing nuts and flour.

Look out for Townend Barn

Townend boasts one of the earliest bank barns in Cumbria. It's still used today by the farmer for lambing and keeping sheep. While it's not open to the public, you can see it from the garden, or on the approach from the car park.

Explore the library

Townend library is made up of around 1,500 books which cover many topics from novels and poetry to farming, religion, law, medicine and current affairs. The books have tell-tale physical signs of being well used by the family (and in many cases their neighbours too), and we can see evidence of oil from finger marks and corners turned over.

There are also 45 entirely unique books: ones that have not survived anywhere else in the world. Some of these are slightly bawdy chapbooks.

Detail of the carved fire surround in the state bedroom at Townend, Cumbria
Detail of the carved fire surround in the state bedroom at Townend, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Examine the unusual furniture and wood carvings

George Browne was an enthusiastic woodcarver and the furniture at Townend tells the story of his fascination with local, traditional woodcarvings, and his more exotic inspirations. His more unusual designs stand out, for example the rather exotic-looking clock cases in the Firehouse and the mermaids supporting the fireplace in the State Bedroom.

He also had a sense of humour; can you spot the row of smiling faces in the fireplace in the main bedroom or the pair of feet sticking out of a long case clock?

Fun for families at Townend

We have a couple of illustrated guides to help children explore the stories of the Browne family as they look around the farmhouse, there’s one for young children and one for slightly older kids too. If you would like to borrow one for your visit just ask a member of the team when you arrive.

The cottage garden is great place to spend time as a family, just relaxing in the sunshine, doing some bird spotting or playing our traditional games in the courtyard.

Make a full day of it

Combining a walk in the valley with a trip to Townend makes for a great Lakeland day out. Download our Townend and Troutbeck Valley walk to uncover classic Lakeland scenery, farmland and architecture on this beautiful circular walk from Brockhole, near Lake Windermere, up into the Troutbeck Valley and to the charming and unique 17th-century farmhouse, Townend. On the way you will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding fells and Lake Windermere, diverse wildlife and some charming local architecture.

Townend and Troutbeck Valley walk

Visit the Old Post Office Tea Room

We don’t have a café here at Townend, however The Old Post Office Tea Room (not NT) is just down the road and well worth a visit for delicious brews alongside freshly made paninis, sandwiches and home made soup, delicious cakes and ice-cream. They have free WiFi and are dog friendly.

The tea room is open daily 10am – 4.30pm, except on Tuesdays.

A view of the small library at Townend, with ornate wooden bookshelves on the left wall, a large fireplace on the back wall and a desk and chair to the right

Book your tour

Daily at 3pm. Please book your place in advance. Every Thursday time slots will be released for the next 14 days.

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