Objects from the collection

The Stricklands have lived at Sizergh for over 750 years, so it’s no surprise that the castle is home to a large and diverse collection of over 2400 objects. Each item gives us a glimpse through time, telling the story of the family’s faith, tastes and even royal connections. With items varying from Australian boomerangs, shields and spears to a lock of King James II’s hair, every month we’ll add something new to the list to give you an idea of the weird and wonderful items in our care.

George Romney painting

October

House Steward, Adrian, has chosen an unusual portrait painted by the famous society artist, George Romney. “I love the domestic details of the globe and the bust, the tapestry on the table and the background of books and pictures – very much a room I would love to work in.” This painting is one of many Romneys at Sizergh. It depicts Reverend William Strickland in his Library, and can be found in the Linenfold Room.

Court Cupboard at Sizergh

September

Senior House Steward, Matt, has chosen the Court Cupboard in the Banqueting Hall. “This piece is from the late 17th century - an eventful period in Sizergh’s history! This court cupboard is an excellent example of period Westmorland carving work. There are very few examples of this style in the National Trust, and the fact that it still stands in Sizergh, in its county of origin, makes it even more significant.”

Painting of Thomas Strickland

August

In a corner of the Library at Sizergh resides a portrait of an imposing looking character; one which has quite a story to tell. Painted in 1724 by John Vanderbank, this portrait of Thomas Strickland (1682-1736) shows him as Bishop of Namur, to which he was appointed in 1727. Fourth son of Winifred and Thomas, he was brought up in France where his family fled with James II in 1688. Thomas’ efforts to effect reconciliation between English Catholics and the government led to hostility towards him from the Old Pretender, James II’s son, and his exiled court, who attacked Thomas as an enemy of the Catholic faith. When later employed by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, it is believed that Thomas was gifted Sizergh’s Antony & Cleopatra tapestries, as a sign of the high regard in which the Emperor held Thomas.

oil painting

July

Gina, Conservation Assistant at Sizergh, loves “the ambiguity of the composition in this painting. The whole painting is taken up by a huge dark tree, which has been scumbled with the brush, removing any definition or detail”. Hauntingly beautiful. The oil on canvas by J. Thomas Tuite, hangs in the Linenfold room and is dated 1840.

Fish bowl

June

As bright and as decorative as this Chinese mid-18th century porcelain might be, it’s doubtful that your average Goldfish would have appreciated this back when these were all the rage. Somewhat lacking in a view from the inside, this fish bowl, one of a pair, would have been used in the 1700s as an ornamental feature, with fish swimming and splashing around inside. You can see the fish bowls in the Drawing Room, where today, and perhaps thankfully, the only creature to be found in this bowl is the occasional confused spider.

sizergh sword

May 2019

Senior House Steward Matt, has selected an object with a lot of clout! This huge sword, of German origin, stands at 5ft tall and is proudly displayed in the medieval Banqueting Hall. An early 16th century sword made in the style of Edward III c1350, it would have been used either as a ceremonial sword or as a defensive pike against cavalry – “it’s way too big to be wielded so has no real practical use in battle other than as a pike. It’s so big that if you were to swing it around to strike the enemy on the battlefield, you would need such a large area to do so that you would end up completely exposed to attack.”

sizergh paintings

April 2019

This month, our Project Curator Georgina has selected her favourite painting in the collection. “Sizergh is known for its impressive portraits of the Strickland family, but this easily forgotten work is the oldest painting we have at Sizergh, and for me, the most beautiful. An oil on board, painted in 1574, it sits in a relatively humble frame. Depicting the darkness that fell at midday, the foreboding skies, the darkened sun and the crescent moon, this composition is packed full of symbolism and allegory. It hangs in the Boyton Bedroom, and is a wonderfully preserved reminder of the Catholic faith carried with the family through eight centuries of history.

Flemish tapestry depicting Antony and Cleopatra meeting

March 2019

The tale of Antony and Cleopatra may be a seductive story of power, manipulation, war and death, but at Sizergh, the couple face a very different battle. The Meeting of Antony & Cleopatra is one of a set of five 17th-century Flemish tapestries that still hang in the Library today. It is in urgent need of specialist conservation, which in total will cost £77,000, and is at the centre of Sizergh’s fundraising this year. Cleopatra is known for her extravagances. She bathed in donkey milk daily and drank a huge pearl dissolved in vinegar - the sort of luxury a Queen with a net worth estimated at $95.8 billion is able to indulge in!