Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

The land in this part of Cumbria had been owned by the Deincourt family since the 1170s. When Elizabeth Deincourt married Sir William de Stirkeland in 1239 the estate passed into the hands of what eventually became known as the Strickland family, who owned it until it was gifted to the National Trust in 1950. It is still lived in by members of the Hornyold-Strickland family, so no photos from inside.
On 29th June 2012, and within minutes, a freak overhead cloudburst, caused a torrent of water to run down this driveway entering the main entrance. The water gushed through the front doorway and out of the back entrance which stands high above a lake. It caused damage to a rare wooden brick block floor, which has now been conserved and refitted by the National Trust. Luckily all of the living quarters are safely positioned on the first floor. In its 800 year history there is no record of this ever having happened before. Was it just a freak of nature, or is this global warming?
courtesy BBC
The white labels on the wooden brick blocks show location references in order to assist the conservators. 
The core of the medieval castle is a 14th century solar tower surround by a Tudor house. It was extended during the Elizabethan period and has richly carved oak panelled interiors, complete with furniture from the same period. Some of the panelling is extremely rare being inlaid with poplar and light oak. The contents including the wall panelling of one bedroom were sold to the V&A Museum during the last part of the 20th century. The museum intended to set it up as a room but never did. In 1999 it was all finally returned to the castle where it is on a long term loan. Around 1770 the building was again expanded in the Georgian style.
The family made their money by keeping flocks of sheep and owning large swathes of land in the north of England, which they leased out to tenants. They were an important family defending the King's northern borders with Scotland.
Rock garden
Walled garden
Tropaeolum speciosum
We have tried to grow Tropaeolum over our pillared golden yews without success. Alas it will not thrive with us, it hates our alkaline dry soil.
The back of the castle showing the door where the water ran through to the lake.
The Dutch garden

64 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:
    We too in our time have given Tropaeolum speciosum a try in the garden but always without success. And yet, we have often seen sheets of this brilliant scarlet climber dripping from hedges in gardens that we have visited. We definitely think that acidic conditions are essential, but other than that it seems that either it will do for you or it won't....some plants are like that don't you think?

    We have thoroughly enjoyed our virtual tour of Sizergh Castle, again somewhere we have yet to see in the flesh so to speak. Such a pity about the wooden blocks being destroyed in the flood but pleasing to see that the National Trust is restoring them. One is becoming rather alarmed at the number of 'freak' weather incidents which seem to be occurring these days.

    The gardens seem to be an interesting mix of informal and formal planting schemes.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - the fact that you could not succeed with Tropaeolum speciosum makes me feel less of a failure. It always looks so elegant draped over yew hedges like a ruby necklace.
      The unusual flooding is, I feel, a matter of concern. Sizergh Castle does not lie in a valley but quite high up, so not to be expected.

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  2. Dear Rosemary
    The rain must have been very strong .... Pity. Congratulations to the people who repaired and not abandon it. The gardens are beautiful. As always great pictures.
    Have a nice day
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - it was literally a cloud burst which did not last for long - the heavens, so to speak, just opened up overhead.
      The gardens very much reflect the northern parts of the country - heathers, ferns, azaleas etc.

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  3. Rosemary, Thank you for following us. This post is lovely and we had not heard of this castle before. Another on the 'to see' list! Minerva x

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    1. Dear Minerva - we are so fortunate in this country that there are so many wonderful and diverse places to visit created throughout our long history. A place on the edge of the Lake District that is well worth going to.

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  4. The grounds and gardens are beautifully manicured, delightful in form and colour. I hope the wooden floor is repaired well and never suffers the same damage again. Everything is so picturesque, beautiful photos Rosemary.

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    1. The National Trust will have been meticulous in repairing the floor and conserving it as it should be. The gardens are very north of the country reflecting the mountains and hills that surround the castle. Glad you found it picturesque Karen.

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  5. This is a very impressive place Rosemay. And it is heartbreaking when places, that have survived in centuries, get damaged any way or another. It seems to me that the National Trust is doing a pretty good job, preserving these pieces of English history.

    Thanks so much for these wonderful wanderings around English countryside : )

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    1. As always, glad to have you wandering around with me Demie, you are always so charmingly appreciative.
      The castle is one that we have wanted to visit for many years, but every time we have driven past it has been closing day, this time we were lucky.

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  6. Dear Rosemary, Have thoroughly enjoyed your history lessons and what makes them especially rewarding, are your beautiful photographs.
    I am now challenged to try and grow Trapaeolum, which in the past I have always by-passed for the more ordinary Nasturtium. I always grow a few Nasturtiums in pots so that I can continue growing them during winter months in my greenhouse. Have you tried growing Trapaeolum in pots where you can provide the correct soil conditions?

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    1. Dear Gina - if you have an acid soil which you can keep fairly moist and something that is evergreen to drape it over then the Tropaeolum speciosum will reward you. In the UK it is very happy growing in Scotland and the north of the country where heathers and such like also thrive - that is the environment it particularly likes. You are right, I did consider growing it in pots, but to really show it off it needs a nice piece of shaped yew to drape itself over.

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  7. What a gorgeous place and such an interesting post, Rosemary. Yes, the weather has been very abnormal this year and I'm only glad that not more damage was done to the castle.

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    1. It is extraordinary that in it's 800 year history it has never happened before.
      So pleased that you found the post interesting Perpetua.

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  8. The stone of the castle is lovely as are the grounds. I love your shot of the sheep.

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    1. Dear Olive - I thought that the sheep looked very contented in their meadow full of lovely green grass. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the castle and grounds.

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  9. Hi, Rosemary! This is a beautiful castle in the pastoral landscape. I especially like its walls and windows. I had no idea what wooden brick block floor is like, but thanks to the video, I understand. Wooden things are too vulnerable not only to fire but also to water. You have such a nice organization like National Trust. Sudden torrential rain, which we call “guerilla rain”, seems to be happening worldwide. Today, a city’s streets of northern Hokkaido, which has no flooding in its history, turned into muddy rivers.

    Yoko

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    1. Hello Yoko - These strange weather patterns and storms seem to be increasing, and nowhere knows it more than you in Japan. Guerilla rain is a very good name for it, I had not heard it called that before.
      I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the castle and the landscape. The castle was fortunate that all of the living accommodation was on the next floor.

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  10. Dear Rosemary,i love castles!The gardens are so beautiful!And the landscape to!Great pictures!Wish you a lovely night!
    Dimi..

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    1. Castles are things that every little child loves and draws, and I think that love stays with us forever. Glad that you also enjoyed the gardens and landscape.

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  11. A beautiful castle and gorgeous landscape. Ofcourse I had to find out on the internet where it was situated. Never to old to learn. About the weather it seems to be like the climate is different from what it was a couple years ago. It's hot and dry or rain in extreme quantities. I think we have to learn to deal with the change of our climate.
    Have a wonderful evening Rosemary.

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    1. Dear Marijke - I am so pleased that you were sufficiently interested to look up its location on the internet. The climate is behaving strangely and most countries seem to be experiencing changes to their normal weather patterns.

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  12. What a beautiful place. Such a pity it got flooded earlier this year. Good thing the special floor was restored to how it was before.
    Bye,
    Marian

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    1. I am pleased that you thought it was beautiful Marian, and I agree it is fortunate that the floor has been restored to how it was before.

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  13. Thank you, Rosemary, you take us to so many interesting places.

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    1. I am glad you found it interesting Susan, it is your heritage too from your old homeland.

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  14. Dear Rosemary,

    I enjoyed seeing this handsome castle, and enjoy knowing that it's still occupied. The story of the rush of water could very well be a result of global warming. I just heard a report about this year's abnormal loss of ice in Antarctica.

    Do you know what the aqua banding on the sheep signifies?

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    1. I agree with you Mark, so many of the castles are now just an empty shell that it is lovely to visit one that is still being lived in by the descendants. When you visit a ruined castle it is very difficult to imagine how it would have looked when it was inhabited. I wish I could have taken some internal shots with its rich dark panelling and brass chandeliers.
      The coloured pigment markings on the sheep are called raddle marks. They are used to show ownership of the sheep, the neighbouring landowner would use a different colour and shape.

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    2. That makes so much sense (I thought it might have to do with timing), and I see great possibility for creative raddle marks!

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    3. When it is lambing time they use a different mark to show which lambs belong to which ewe. A bit of creative possibility occurs during mating time when a device filled with coloured pigment is strapped to the chest of a ram which then marks the ewes after mating!!! Now you have the complete raddle story.

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  15. Those sheep seem to be living very peacefully on the beautiful landscape. Thanks for this interesting post. Teaches about history as well :)

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    1. Hello Lea, and thanks for visiting. I thought that the sheep looked pastoral and contented in the long rich grass at the time.
      Glad you found the post interesting with a small touch of history thrown in.

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  16. Hello Rosemary, What a beautiful spot that castle and grounds is. It is quite a shame about the damage to that wooden paving. I could not see much detail from that picture, but wooden paving can be surprisingly durable--there are places with outdoor wooden street paving that survive from the 19th century. In Cleveland's Hessler Road, the blocks were set with the end-grain up.

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    1. Hello Jim - yes, I am sorry that is a very poor picture. I understand that most of the wooden bricks survived their ordeal with just a few having to be replaced. The replacements were made by expert conservators and aged so that it is impossible to see any difference from the original ones. I will see if I can see any images of the Cleveland Hessler Road on the internet.

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  17. I have just enjoyed a lovely virtual visit, what a relief to hear that the damaged flooring is being repaired.

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  18. What a beauty, and as I've said before on one of your posts, thank goodness there is a desire, followed by action, to protect old buildings and properties where you live. I also love the way your photos have captured the front and back views of the estate (the gardens look immense!)

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    1. Dear Rosemary - the up keep on these very old properties is immense, but it is important to keep them well maintained. They are the heritage and history of everybody - enjoyed by us and also much appreciated by our visitors from overseas too.

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  19. What a treasure--too bad about the rain damage, but looks like there is hope about its restoration. Thanks for the tour...

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    1. Thanks Debi - I understand that the rain damage has now been beautifully restored and conserved, so all is well. The castle is a treasure, and so pleasing that it is still lived in by members of the descended family.

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  20. One of my favourite plants in this garden and in mine are those tiny pink and white daisies sprinkled over the stone steps. I call them "Norfolk daisies" because I bought my original plants there - we rarely see them in Yorkshire.I have forgotten their correct name.

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    1. I love those little daisies too Nilly, and have tried, unsuccessfully, to grow them in our drystone walls. I think that they are called Erigeron karveniensis - they do not have a very lovely common name - Flea bane!!! - By the way sharp eyes you have.

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  21. Gorgeous gardens !!! Nothing like this to see in Greece ...

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    1. Dear Dani - this is very much a garden of the north of England, and similar ones can be found in Scotland too. Typically they have rock gardens filled with heathers, ferns, and rhododendrons.

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  22. Hi, Rosemary,

    I find your blog fascinating and love the gorgeous colors and large format of your photographs. I can feel fall coming in these photos, not only in the rich colors but there is a damp lush chill over everything that seems bracing and makes me want to put on a sweater. How do you put your name on the photos, because I'm thinking of posting some of my original art on my blog and would love to do that....? I was especially fascinated with your analysis of the Arnolfi Portrait, not too long ago, one of my favorite paintings. I love Van Eyck and the Flemish Primitives and had never read that interpretation. What a lot of thoughtful comments you received. Keep up the wonderful work you do on this extremely fascinating blog...love, Beth

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    1. Dear Beth - those are such very kind and lovely comments - thank you very much. Sizergh Castle is almost on the borders with Scotland, and they are definitely nearer to the autumn feel than we are in the south of the country.
      Glad that you enjoyed the interpretation of the Arnolfi Portrait. It did receive lots of very thoughtful comments, and I am pleased that it provoked discussion as there is so much hidden symbolism in the painting.
      It is very easy to watermark your photos. Go into http://www.picmonkey.com/ which is a free site. You may have to download adobe for the flash if you haven't done so already. Go into edit a photo and upload the photo you need. Under basic edits you will see a P on the lefthand side, click on that, next chose the writing you like, click on that, and then click on Add Text at the top of the column. This will then go onto your photo which you click on to and type your blog title or name. Then click on the background so that it is a feature on the photo. You can then go back onto the writing and make it a different colour, fade it or change the size, when you are happy save the photo to your computer file.
      If you have any problems you can come back to me. Good luck.

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  23. P.S.....Rosemary....I forgot to ask you where I can find some wonderful photographs of stain glass. I'm teaching art of the middle ages to some middle school children in an after school program. love, Beth

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    1. If you put medieval stained glass into Google images you will get literally hundreds of pictures. If, however, you wanted to put any on your blog, you would need to use wikipedia stained glass images as they are available to use if you put courtesy of wikipedia.
      Hope this helps.

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  24. Dear Rosemary,
    Great post as always, beautiful photos, video and interesting text.
    Like Yoko, I had no idea what wooden brick block floor is like either.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Wish you a wonderful weekend.
    Mette

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    1. Dear Mette - I believe that this floor is from the Tudor period, and because the brick of wood is fairly deep it is very hard wearing and lasts for hundreds of years.
      Lovely to hear from you and hope you have had a good summer.

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  25. What a spectacular place! I am always captivated by the idea of the mediaeval solar.

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    1. It does have a romance to it Kate - we tend to think in terms of a modern interpretation for solar - meaning sun, but in fact I understand it mean't an upstairs area in a castle or manor house for the 'sole' use of the head of the household and his family to get away from the hustle and bustle of the great hall which usually was below it.

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  26. Please , I have something little , something from my heart !
    Olympia

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    1. I will visit your blog dear Olympia.

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  27. A Paz de Cristo,

    Visitar seu blog alegrou meu coração as suas palavras contagiam.
    Te espero no meu cantinho, vc é especial para o Blog Fruto do Espírito.

    Com todo afeto esperando sua visitinha... e também sua presença como seguidora, retribuirei o carinho!

    http://frutodoespirito9.blogspot.com/

    ***Lucy***


    P.S. Visite também:

    http://discipulodecristo7.blogspot.com/

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  28. Hi, Rosemary -
    Such history, architecture and gardens. I have never seen wooden brick block flooring before. Thank goodness for the speedy restoration. Wood and water = no, no! About 20 years ago, I purchased an antique thin wooden cutting board with several stains....thought it would be a good idea to submerge the board in soapy water overnight. Next day I had a very warped and still stained cutting board :(
    Loi

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    1. Hello Loi - wood is a curios commodity. When I recall how Venice was built on wooden piles and even to this day when carrying out restoration, most of the wood is still found to be in perfect order. The carved wooden oak eaves on Sizergh Castle, you can see them on the photo of the back of the castle, have been there since the 17th century and are still in perfect condition through hundreds of years of stormy weather. They have now in fact turned so solid that it is like stone. I think perhaps it depends on which trees the wood came from. The Tudor beamed houses in England are all made of oak, and I understand the wooden piles in Venice are made from the elder tree.

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  29. Hi, Rosemary,

    Thank you for lesson about how to put words on a photo. I thought my email was in my google page for Acorn Pies...sorry. love, Beth

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    1. Hope you can follow my instructions.

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  30. Dear Rosemary,
    I love the Lake District and in fact my father is buried up there. I have never been to Sizergh (nor have any members of my family) because - foolishly I suppose - our family still remembers the fact that the Stircklands tried to sue our ancestors the Fallowfields in the 15th Century, over the inheritance of of Morland and its' estates.

    However having seen your photographs, it may be time to put that old ghost to rest. . .

    Bye for now

    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - that is really interesting. Most of these very old successful families, I believe, were almost, dare I say it, the terrorists of their day. How about writing a post about it? I am sure it would make fascinating reading, and it would be a way of putting the record straight and making amends to your disinherited ancestors.

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    2. That is a good idea Rosemary. I shall do a little delving and make it into a post. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    3. I shall look forward to that - grab a Sizergh Castle photo from here if you wish to use one.

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