Sizergh Castle: Banqueting Hall

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On the second floor of the tower at Sizergh Castle is the Banqueting Hall. In medieval times, this was the solar chamber and is entered from a spiral staircase. The staircase provided the only access until alterations in the 19th century when a doorway was cut through from the Top Passage. The room is lit by a deep set 14th century three light window which overlooks the courtyard.

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The Hall features a 16th century fireplace and adze-hewn oak floorboards. The removal of the floor above was part of the 19th century alterations which were inspired by the fashion for romantic medievalism, creating a highly theatrical interior. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the ashlar stonework walls were painted with trompe-l’oeil and hung with armour and trophies of weapons in a true baronial style.

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In 1948 Henry Hornyold-Strickland made a gallery (below) around all four sides of the upper storey using timber salvaged from a 16th century barn which had collapsed in 1945.

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Against the early 17th century long-table are two sets of Elizabethan forms, or benches, the sides of which are carved to imitate loosely the hanging edge of a hide covering. One set (below) has the initials of Walter Strickland and the date 1562 while the other may be slightly later and made to match. Chairs with arms were comparatively rare during the mid 16th century and an inventory dated 1569 records only nine in the whole house. Four panel-back armchairs (as seen next to the fireplace in top photos) with flat topped arms are dated 1570 and 1571 and have lozenge panels which match those in the Old Dining Room.

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The late 17th century Brussels tapestry (top) portrays the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius reproving his wife Faustina for her profligate living. This wonderful room is furnished with beautiful Elizabethan and Georgian pieces that highlight superb craftsmanship.

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Sizergh Castle: The Great Barn

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Sited near to the southern approach to the castle, the impressive Great Barn stands amid several other estate buildings. Constructed of limestone rubble, the Barn is reputed to have been built by Walter Strickland in the 1560’s. This early example of a two-storey Lake District bank barn features stone chimney stacks, flattened arched heads to either side of the projecting central block with recessed arch which is surmounted by a lead cupola. A bank barn houses animals at ground level and hay and grain are stored on an upper level which is accessible from a ramp or a bank. In 1569 ‘the new barne’ contained wheat, barley and oats together with a large number of agricultural implements. The Barn measures over 100ft in length and has two ramps and two sets of double doors to the upper level. The Great Barn is now converted to houses and is Grade II* Listed.

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