SIZERGH CASTLE

(Formerly Westmorland)

Grid Ref: SD 497 880
Date: 15 August 2011, 19 Sept 2019

 

Castle
View across the lake, 2019
Sizergh Castle
The entrance to the castle, 2011
Entrance
Part of the entrance courtyard, 2019
Castle

View of the keep from the gardens in 2019

Gardens
The gardens, 2011

Arthur Mee covers Sizergh Castle under the heading of the nearby settlement of Heslington, which in his day had neither shop nor inn but only an 18th century church and a school. He states that Sizergh Castle is one of the noblest in England, as charming a fortified house as he had seen. Moreover the Strickland family had unbroken occupation for 700 years, a record rarely surpassed. They fought at Hastings, in the Wars of the Roses, at Agincourt with Henry V and at Edgehill with Charles I.

The hall was built around an older pele tower and flanked by Elizabethan wings. It has Tudor panelling, 17th century Flemish tapestries and fine portraits. The Inlaid Chamber has a 16th century plaster frieze and a lavish ceiling. Mee reported that the fine panelling in this room was sold, but in 1999, it was returned to its original place. The property has been in the care of the National Trust since 1950.

The estate passed to the Stricklands when Sir William de Stirkeland (sic) married the heiress Elizabeth Deincourt in 1239. Spellings were variable and names subject to changes and the family ended spelling the name as Strickland. In the time of Edward III, (1327-1377) Sir Walter Strickland was given permission to create a park around the property. The house was extended in the 16th century. The Stricklands remained Catholic after the Reformation. Sir Thomas Strickland (1621-1694) fought for the King during the Civil War and was knighted at the Battle of Edgehill. He was an M.P. for Westmorland after the Restoration of the Monarchy and continued to support James II after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He went into exile with James and died in France.

By family tradition, Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife, once stayed at Sizergh. She was born in Kendal. A tablecloth and counterpane are said to have been worked by her. In the chapel there is a very rare portable shrine from the 15th century for which Sir Thomas Strickland received a licence from the Pope. It is made of Italian leather with painted cherubs.

The castle received considerable publicity during 2014, in a series of programs on television about National Trust properties presented by Michael Buerk.

Sources

Buildings of England, Westmorland & Cumberland, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin Books, 1967, reprinted 1973, ISBN 0 14 071033 7
The King's England: The Lake Counties by Arthur Mee, Caxton Publishing, special edition by arrangement with Hodder and Stoughton
Wikipedia on Thomas Strickland and Sizergh Castle

 

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