Astley Hall in Chorley is home to 17th century tapestries depicting the mythical Greek story Jason and the Golden Fleece

As part of our Chorley 150 series, reporter Jon Townend tells the story of the tapestries which are being conserved for future generations.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 4:05 pm
An image from one of the tapestries depicting the mythical story of Jason and the Golden Fleece at Astley Hall  - Copyright Textile Conservation Limited
An image from one of the tapestries depicting the mythical story of Jason and the Golden Fleece at Astley Hall - Copyright Textile Conservation Limited

As the Chorley Guardian reflects on the 150 years since it first published, we're telling the stories of people and places which touch our community in our Chorley 150 series.

One of the biggest draws in Chorley; Astley Hall boasts some fabulous artefacts that really contribute to a fascinating day out.

Right up there among them must be the four woven 17th century tapestries depicting the mythical story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.

Astley Hall in Chorley

The tapestries usually adorn the walls of the Drawing Room at Astley Hall but last year they embarked on a journey to Bristol to undergo conservation which will stabilise them and increase their longevity.

Chorley Council Museums Officer Amy Dearnaley said: "The conservation treatment will address the most urgent issues including; removing and replacing the linings which are currently degraded and weak, surface cleaning, stabilising them with new borders and replacing the current hanging system with Velcro which will enable them to hang without sagging.

"The work is scheduled to finish, and the tapestries will return in time for the re-opening of Astley Hall in Spring 2022."

It is thought that the tapestries were originally purchased to complement the grand re-modelling of the hall in the 17th century which included the creation of the gravity defying ornate plaster ceilings.

A close detail of one of the tapestries at Astley Hall depicting the mythical story of Jason and the Golden Fleece - Copyright Textile Conservation Limited

The tapestries were made in Brussels and because they were so expensive they became symbols of status.

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Since the 17th century, the tapestries have largely remained at Astley Hall and were reputedly the pride and joy of Susannah Hoghton, heiress to the hall in the 19th century.

She is even rumoured to have cleaned them herself.

An image from one of the tapestries depicting the mythical story of Jason and the Golden Fleece at Astley Hall

In the early 20th century, Reginald Arthur Tatton took the tapestries with him to his new home Cuerden Hall which he inherited along with Astley Hall on the death of his uncle Thomas Townley Parker.

It wasn’t until 1947 that the tapestries returned when they were purchased from a sale at Christies for £594 guineas.

The tapestries form part of a series depicting The Story of Jason.

Jason, from Iolcus, led the Argonauts to capture the Golden Fleece from Aërtes, King of Colchis on the Black Sea.

A bird in the border of one of the tapestries depicting the mythical story of Jason and the Golden Fleece at Astley Hall

Aërtes' daughter, Medea, fell in love with Jason and helped him, partially with magic, to overcome the dangers in finding the Fleece.

He took it from a tree beneath which a dragon was coiled and fled to Greece with Medea, to avoid the wrath of her father.

Chorley 150 countdown

This story is part of our Chorley 150 series to mark the 150th anniversary of the Chorley Guardian.

If you'd like to nominate someone, a business, charity or landmark, for the Chorley 150 series then email

The Chorley Guardian is featuring 150 stories about Chorley: Inspirational people, places that we love, or special moments in the life of the borough.