I’ve visited Sizergh Castle many, many times over the years, but have stepped inside the castle itself just twice. That’s because there are a whole host of reasons to spend time at Sizergh that not everyone may be aware of (although visiting the castle itself is a good start!). Here are 10:
1. A tour of the castle
Because Sizergh is, after all, a castle, we’ll start with a tour of the inside. I visited on what probably turned out to be the hottest day of the year, so I can say with some certainty that the castle is a lovely refreshing place to spend an hour or so if, like me, you’re not too keen on the type of scorching hot sunshine that develops in the middle of a summer’s day!
Sizergh has been associated with the Strickland family since 1239, so some of the rooms have a really medieval feel to them, while other parts of the house were built on and decorated in the following centuries. Tours at Sizergh Castle are self-guided, with information sheets in each room. You can also catch guided tours for a small extra fee on selected dates – see the National Trust website for details.
2. The Elizabethan oak panelling and Inlaid Chamber
Sizergh Castle is particularly well known for its elaborate Elizabethan oak panelling. The Inlaid Chamber, which you see towards the end of your tour of the house, is of both national and international significance, and is thought to be amongst the finest panelling made for a country house in England.
I particularly love the doorway to the Inlaid Chamber, which consists of a ‘half-octagonal’ porch. Unfortunately the room was just too dark for me to get a good picture of it, but apparently the porch contributed both to the warmth and privacy of the occupants. The panelling for the Inlaid Chamber was returned to Sizergh Castle from the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1999.
3. A spiral staircase
Everyone loves a spiral staircase, and you encounter this one at the end of the tour. Perhaps not so great for creaking hips and knees, but you can return the other way if needed!
It was so hot in the grounds on the day I visited that I found myself moving from shadow to shadow as quickly as possible, and by the end my head was swimming with the heat. Predictably, I perked up on seeing the sign for a second-hand bookshop’ though, and found a nice little Lake District walking guide for a pound. 🙂 The proceeds go towards the conservation of this rather lovely barn.
You access the tearoom and gift shop immediately on leaving the car park, which means you don’t have to be visiting the castle to stop here. Tea on the veranda is lovely on a warm day, and from previous experience, the cake is good too! Car parking is free, which is also a bonus if you’re only stopping for a tea or coffee.
6. Local walks
Not everyone is aware of this, but there are some lovely walks that can be taken from Sizergh, and the surrounding countryside is quite picturesque. Walking guides are available from the National Trust shop, and there are one or two walking ideas on the Sizergh Castle web profile on the NT website.
If you’d prefer to spend a couple of hours outside rather than indoors, Sizergh sell garden-only tickets, which is very handy. If you are a National Trust member already, your ticket is free.
The limestone Rock Garden is one of my favourite areas in the grounds, and is planted with lots of beautiful acers which look great from spring through to autumn. There are several other pieces of garden to visit too, including a long border, vegetable patch, orchard and woodland walks.
8. The stumpery
A recent addition to the Sizergh Castle garden is the stumpery, which is home to four National Collections of ferns. It was officially opened in 2016 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the British Pteridological Society – a group for fern enthusiasts – which was founded in Kendal in 1891. Stumperies were apparently very fashionable in the Victorian era, and the tree stumps were donated by the contractor working on the recently completed Heysham to M6 link road.
The grounds at Sizergh are perfect for families to explore with young children, and the National Trust have put together a wild play trail online, allowing you to get the best out of your visit here.
10. Picnic spots
Eating out can be expensive and less than convenient when you’re doing so every day on holiday, so it’s also useful to know that there are several picnic benches around the grounds at Sizergh. You’ll find them in the large grassed area in the centre of the car park (no admittance needed), in the ‘Knoll’ outside the gardens (garden ticket required), and behind the orchard (garden ticket also required).
Have you visited Sizergh Castle on a trip to the Lake District? What did you enjoy most? Let us know by leaving a comment below!