Treasures of our collection

The front of the Kings Cabinet at Chirk Castle

When a family lives in the same place for 400 years they gather a diverse collection of art, furniture and curiosities.

Here are just a few of the treasures housed at Chirk Castle, there are many more to see and most of them are also available to view online at www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk

The Kings Cabinet

Traditionally said to have been given by Charles II to Sir Thomas Myddelton II (1586 - 1666) in 1661 in thanks for his role in the Restoration of the monarchy. The Kings Cabinet is made of Ebony with tortoiseshell inlays, internal silver mounts with oil paintings on copper. The cabinet is of the Flemish School, 17th century, circa 1640-50.

The cabinet has three levels, the first consists of 10 small rectangular painted copper panels from the studio of Frans Francken II (Antwerp 1581 - 1642), when under the direction of his son Frans Francken III (Antwerp 1607 - 1667). They show scenes from the Life of Christ and the Seven Acts of Mercy: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit prisoners, to shelter the stranger, to visit the sick, and finally to bury the dead.

The second level consists of 10 drawers faced with silver mounts with putti, dolphins, monkeys, lions and birds and two outer opening doors also with silver mounts. These doors reveal the third level which has a floor of fielded panels of red tortoiseshell, 8 drawers with silver mounts and a central mirrored recess.

Myddelton Pedigree

This amazing 35ft long scroll shows the Myddelton family tree from 1670 backwards through the line of Welsh princes and ancient English kings. It was commissioned around 1660 to mark the baronetcy recently granted by King Charles II.

Drawn on handmade paper with brightly coloured iron gall inks, an inscription on the pedigree reads, 'Samuel Myddelton, author of this pedigree, died 1678'.

Shagreen Chest

A Japanese chest from c.1600, with a domed lid covered in shagreen (shark-skin) with panels of lacquer and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The panels show scenes of animals, fruit, birds, trees, flowers and houses. The chest has ornate gilt copper clasps and lock and stands on an English stand.

The chest is thought to have been acquired by Sir Thomas Myddelton I, who made his fortune as a merchant adventurer and was one of the founders of the East India company.

Y Beibl Bach

The most important item in the Chirk Castle library is Sir Thomas Myddelton's copy of Y Beibl Bach. The printing of this popular Welsh edition of the bible, pocket-sized and published in 1630 was partly paid for by Sir Thomas.

Due to its size and affordability, it is credited with helping keep the Welsh language alive as it brought the written form of the language into thousands of ordinary Welsh homes.