Sizergh Castle, Cumbria - Northern England

by Veronica

This medieval, fortified manor house couldn't be much further north in England. I visited today with my family. It is a delight. Sizergh is pronounced "Size - zer" in English.

Sizergh Castle and Garden is one of the few houses that is still in family residency from the 13th Century. The state was originally in the hands of The Deincourt family until a Deincourt heiress married William de Stirkland in 1239. The Strickland family still live in part of the castle to this day. The Castle is owned by the National Trust now.
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The castle is a fine stone building and in excellent condition. It has been changed over several centuries but still maintains a family feel to it. The Great Hall was added to the building in 1450, and during Tudor times more buildings and wings were added. The courtyard below has three sides and is open on the fourth.

Sizergh
Sizergh Castle entrance
Sizergh Castle entrance

The gardens

The Stumpery

This was new to me. I hadn't heard of a "stumpery " before.  A stumpery is an area where tree stumps are used as decorative features. Wild fungus grow on them and there are huge varieties of ferns too.

Tree stump garden
Tree stump garden
amazing fungus on stumps
amazing fungus on stumps
fungus
fungus
The kitchen garden

The Stumpery leads on to the Kitchen Garden. This is beautifully maintained and developed. There are several unusual varieties of apples. English apple varieties are in serious decline and Sizergh has managed to maintain some old varieties. Peppers and aubergines ( egg plants ) grow in the green houses.

vegetable frames
vegetable frames
unusual variety of apples
unusual variety of apples
peppers
peppers
aubergines ( egg plants )
aubergines ( egg plants )
The rock garden and orchard

The rock garden is a delightful nook with little streams and cascades of water flowing over the rocks.  It is close to the orchard. All the apples had been stripped already but there are bee hives which produce honey. The dahlia walk near the house is thriving with solitary bees.

dahlias
dahlias
The dahlia walk
The dahlia walk
Separate bee hives from the solitary bees on the dahlia walk
Separate bee hives from the solitary bees on the dahlia walk

The Castle

Remarkably, the castle itself has a homely feel to it. Scattered around the rooms are family photos as would be found in any home. The picture below shows the different types of stone used over several extensions.

the castle under an autumn sky
the castle under an autumn sky

This is a very old back door. If you look carefully you will see that the third section has a smaller door inside the large door. This was for security so any attackers could not gain entrance easily. Not many of these doors survive. Only the smaller door needed to be opened.

An ancent door with a small door inside it.
An ancent door with a small door inside it.

Tudor Tester bed

This bed is a Tudor Tester bed. It is often mistaken for a 4 poster. A Tester bed has a top on it as seen here. The top is wooden and carved. There are several Tester beds with beautiful embroidered covers.

The Tudor Tester bed
The Tudor Tester bed

Minstrel gallery

This is part of the medieval tower and typical of a medieval house. The minstrel gallery was above the dining area so that music was played whilst people ate.

Ancient dining room and minstral gallery above
Ancient dining room and minstral gallery above

Stairs

Despite the renovations and changes, the staircases have stayed in sturdy, thick old stone.

old stone stairs
old stone stairs

Conclusion

This is a fine old house dating from several periods but mainly from the 1200's. The gardens themselves are worth a visit and the castle is enchanting.

It is near Kendal in Cumbria in the far north of England, approx. 50 miles from Scotland and close to transport links. Enjoy it.

 

Updated: 10/26/2017, Veronica
 
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Veronica 26 days ago

NB A stumpery has a Wikipedia page ! Who would have thought it. !?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stumpery

They were popular in Victorian times.

Veronica 26 days ago

Katie, It is indeed a beautiful place to visit. I know many Wizzley people love seeing where we all live : me included.

Castles though are quite unique in people's minds. They conjuror all sorts of images.

katiem2 26 days ago

Oh my what a wonder, castles are so intriguing. I imagine all sorts of dramatic incidents occurring in such majestic castles. I have often thought how cool it would be to live in such a place. I love the estate, land and all the wonders of nature and gardens.

Veronica 26 days ago

It certainly makes for a fascinating exhibit as the tester is beautifully carved too.
Have you been to Sizergh ? it is about 90 minutes from your home and I think you would enjoy it.

frankbeswick 26 days ago

The aim of having curtains was to ensure not only privacy, but also to retain warmth, important in drafty castles and manor houses, so there had to be some covering at the top,otherwise the warmth would not be retained. So it would seem that there may have been several practical uses for the wooden roof of the tester bed.

Veronica 26 days ago

As big- bro says, we get storms but rarely earthquakes of any considerable force. I suspect that as many wealthy Tudors slept whilst their servants slept on the floor in the room, that curtains were deemed necessary and the Tester was part this.

Veronica 26 days ago

Stumpery ! The instant I saw the word I knew the Wizzley community with our huge thirst for knowledge would find the word of interest. I was fascinated by it and The Stumpery at Sizergh was a very interesting addition to the garden.

The Tester is another interesting one. Not all 4 posters have a tester on top. Tudor beds in large house often did. There are half testers too which just cover the bed-head half.

Veronica 26 days ago

I think that the tester made curtains around the bed more practical.

frankbeswick 26 days ago

Earthquakes are not the biggest problem in Britain and Britons on the whole do not take earthquake precautions, but the possibility of a ceiling collapse was more pressing. The tester bed might be for that. But the hard top was a good defence against bat droppings landing on sleepers in the night.

blackspanielgallery 26 days ago

I had not encountered the word stumpery before. And neither has my word checker, for it is being underlined. This happens with little used words.
I am wondering if the tester bed would offer protection from storms that could compromise a roof, blocking falling debris. And would it also have value in an earthquake, or might the top of the bed itself be an added danger?


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