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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Beningbrough Hall: Nathaniel Hone

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On display as part of the stunning collection held at Beningbrough Hall is the above portrait. The oil on canvas depicts Nathaniel Hone opening his portfolio and is a self portrait dating to circa 1760. Hone was a Dublin born portrait painter, miniaturist and engraver. Following his move to England, he married wealthy Mary Earle in York Minster in 1742. The couple subsequently moved to London where Hone established himself painting portraits and narrative scenes.

Beningbrough Hall: Robert Wood

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The top floor of Beningbrough Hall is devoted to a vibrant compendium of galleries which combine the National Portrait Gallery’s 18th century collections with temporary displays and interactive touch screen computers which aim to bring the outstanding portraits to life. Following a refurbishment in 2006, the galleries in this Baroque mansion provide an appropriate historical setting to display a wide programme of collaborations. The above oil on canvas dates to 1755 and depicts the classical scholar Robert Wood. Wood led ground breaking archaeological expeditions to Greece and the Middle East during the early 1750’s and he wrote two important works: the Ruins of Palmyra (1753) and the Ruins of Balbec (1757). The portrait is the work of the Scottish portrait painter Allan Ramsay and was painted in Rome where Wood was working as a tutor to the Duke of Bridgewater.