A medieval castle on the edge of the Lake District
New summer exhibition of rare 17th-century textiles
We’re very fortunate to have Sizergh Castle and gardens just 20 minutes away from The Malabar. It’s a National Trust property just outside Kendal, that dates back to medieval times. Like many old estates, it’s steeped in history. It’s thought that Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, lived there in the 1530s after the death of her first husband.
It doesn’t look like our traditional notion of a castle, which is a little confusing. The story goes that back in the 12th-century, the first building on the estate was a ‘fortified’ residence and home to the Deincourt family. In those days, fortified houses of the nobility were referred to as castles. Even though the original building has been extended and altered over the centuries, it has always been known as Sizergh Castle.
We love the variety of the different gardens that surround the house which you can visit all year round. There is a formal geometric garden, two very pretty lakes, a semi-natural woodland garden, orchard, terrace and the largest limestone rock garden of any National Trust property in the UK. You can spend all day there or just drop in for lunch or coffee and cake and enjoy the scenery. There are also lots of secluded outbuildings where you can find a quiet spot to read, meditate or just think.
The Sizergh Silk Road
This summer there is a new exhibition called ‘The Sizergh Silk Road – from Goa to Antwerp’ that showcases some very rare 17th-century Flemish textiles.
The Strickland family, who have been the constant owners and occupants of Sizergh Castle since the 1100s, recently uncovered a hidden treasure in the form of a rare 17th-century silk bedspread. The richly embroidered piece was previously owned by James II. King James gifted the bedspread as well as many other objects to the Stricklands in gratitude for their loyalty. James was a very unpopular king and only ruled for four years. In 1688 he was forced into exile in France and the Strickland family were among those who travelled with him to help him set up court there.
As well as the bedspread, visitors to the exhibition can view several 17th-century tapestry wall hangings before they travel to Antwerp for specialist treatment.
All pieces in the collection are gorgeous and remarkably well preserved. It’s well worth a visit.