Rare chance to view art treasures

Coun Bev Murray with some of the collection of art at Astley Hall which will soon be available online

Coun Bev Murray with some of the collection of art at Astley Hall which will soon be available online

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Some of the rarest and most precious pieces of Astley Hall’s £1.5m collection of art will finally see the light of day.

Although they won’t actually see the light of day – they are far too special for that.

The 95 oil paintings at the historic Astley Hall museum, on Southport Road, have now been added to an online directory – a move which makes it the first time in a number of years that the collection has been available to view in its entirety.

Chorley Council worked with the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) to prepare, photograph and document the collection of oil paintings, some of which are too large to hang, as part of the Your Paintings project, which hopes to create an online catalogue of every oil painting in the national collection.

Coun Beverley Murray, who has responsibility for Astley Hall at Chorley Council, said: “A lot of work has gone into preparing and photographing the paintings.

“The project will ensure that Astley Hall’s paintings continued to be preserved for years to come.”

The collection includes a portrait of Captain Charnock, also known as Captain One Eye, who previously owned the hall.

He lost an eye in the Battle of Lathom during the English Civil War.

There is also a painting by artist John Everett Millais, who was co-opted into the Royal Academy of Arts when he was just 11 years old.

His portrait features William Carr Standish, a member of the famous Standish family and an ex-resident of Duxbury Hall.

There are also paintings of members of the different families that used to live in Astley Hall, including the Brooke family and the Townley Parker family.

The project is in partnership with the BBC, and the PCF have so far catalogued 145,000 paintings.

Coun Marray said: “This will give greater access to Chorley’s history and we hope it will entice even more people to visit Astley Hall and Chorley.”

The hall was built in the mid-17th century and extended in 1825. It was given to Chorley Council in 1922 as a memorial following World War One, and now has museum status.

n To view the collection, visit www.bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings.

To see some of the paintings in person, Astley Hall and the Coach House gallery are open every Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4.30pm.