Saturday, 7 April 2018
I've joined The National Trust, so I aim to visit as many sites as I reasonably can this year, making the most of my membership. I started by visiting Sizergh Castle, not far from Grange over Sands. It's a substantial medieval house, set in rather beautiful grounds. It has belonged to the same family, the Stricklands, since 1239. The family still reside in one wing of the house and, apparently, still use the state rooms too, when the house is not open to the public.
The square tower on the left of the photo above is the original medieval (1300s) solar tower. The house has evolved around this over the centuries, as various generations have extended and altered it to suit their purposes. The house contains fine Elizabethan oak panelling and has furnishings reflecting styles from Elizabethan through to Regency and Victorian. The whole house contains many family portraits and more recent photographs, which makes it feel very personal and welcoming.
During the Tudor period, the Strickland family were very wealthy. Catherine Parr (who became the 6th wife of Henry VIII) and who was a relative of the Stricklands, is though to have lived here after the death of her first husband. When I visited, there was an exhibition of letters written by Cecilia Strickland (1741-1814) who owned the house in the 18th century. Her husband died and she fought to keep the house for her son's inheritance, despite her own ill-health and an ongoing struggle to afford to maintain the buildings. It was rather moving to read her letters; she sounds to have been a very strong and determined woman. It's lovely the way the National Trust these days works so hard to make history relevant and illuminating. I really enjoyed my visit.