Sizergh Castle and Catherine Parr

A few weeks ago we had a splendid day visiting Sizergh Castle and a number of other local beauty spots.

Sizergh Castle and Garden is a stately home and garden just south of Kendal. The castle is a Grade One listed building and is in the care of the National Trust, along with its garden and estate. The Strickland family has lived at Sizergh for more than 750 years, and it remains their home today. Set in large, beautifully landscaped gardens and based on an impressive 14th Century solar tower, Sizergh was extended in Tudor times.

I have happy memories of singing Christmas carols in the Great Hall when I was at Heversham Grammar School, just down the road. The Castle hasn't changed much, obviously, but since it passed into the hands of the National Trust, Sizergh has been "monetised" , with a large café, shop and woodland walks. Fortunately, this doesn't detract from the beauty of the building or the peace of the gardens.

Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII and a relative of the Stricklands, is thought to have lived here after her first husband died in 1533. Catherine's second husband, Lord Latymer, was kin to the dowager Lady Strickland. However, recently Kendal-born David Starkey blew this theory sky high when he stated "it's perfectly clear that she has absolutely nothing to do with Kendal; she never comes to Kendal. I doubt very much if her father ever came to Kendal, and certainly her mother never came to Kendal".  David Starkey claims that the Victorian write, Agnes Strickland, is responsible for the myth that Katherine's school room was at Sizergh!

After an enjoyable couple of hours at Sizergh we had a short walk to Cunswick Tarn. Again, there are associations with Catherine Parr, with claims that it was here at Cunswick Hall, that Henry VIII courted Catherine, who was at the time living at Sizergh Castle. The legend is enjoyable, and it's fun to imagine them strolling around the tarn, but, in the light of David Starkey's research, possibly not correct!

We ended this lovely day with a visit to Sizergh Barn, a fabulous food emporium, close to Sizergh Castle.