From 1200 to 1475 the De Torboc and De Lathom families owned the manor of Turton; both of which retained a claim on the manor until the 17th century. William Orrell married the heiress Elizabeth de Torboc and took over the manor from the 1420s. They began an extensive programme of renovations and extensions turning it into a large, comfortable home. However the Orrells were living beyond their means and as the cost of the refurbishment and redecoration began to take its toll, they were forced to sell the house. The Tower was sold to Manchester banker Humphrey Chetham in 1628, though the Orrells remained tenants until 1648.
During the Civil War (1642-50), Humphrey Chetham sided with the Parliament against the Cavalier army of King Charles I. Chetham raised a local army and allowed Roundhead troops to use the Tower as a hostel. As he owned property elsewhere, both Chetham and his descendents seem to have spent relatively little time living in the Tower. The house passed to the Greene and Frere families, relatives by marriage to the Chethams, until the Kay family took ownership in 1835. The Kays can be described as antiquarians. They spent a great deal of time and money restoring and remodelling the house and gardens. The last owner Lady Nina Knowles left the house in the care of North Turton District Trust in 1930 after the death of her husband Sir Lees Knowles. The Tower was used as council offices with a small museum opening within it in the early 1950s. In 1974 Turton Tower became solely a historic house museum giving pleasure to the thousands of visitors each year that come to admire its splendour.