[I]n a new historic agreement the V & A have formally transferred the ownership of the Inlaid Chamber to the National Trust at Sizergh, nr Kendal.
The Inlaid Chamber is a rare Elizabethan survival and one of the finest examples of inlaid panelling ever made for an English country house. All the main panels and friezes are inlaid on a sumptuously large scale, with geometrical strapwork and foliated scrolls which use inlays of poplar and bog oak to create a shimmering interplay of light and dark.
The chamber was the culmination of the programme of interior decoration initiated by Walter Strickland (1516-69) for Sizergh Castle. Following Walter’s early death, it was completed by his widow Alice, who was responsible for the installation of the elaborate plasterwork ceiling and frieze, reminiscent of Henry VIII’s magnificent Great Watching Chamber at Hampton Court Palace, as well as the sumptuous wood panelling and windows featuring heraldic stained glass.
In 1891 the chamber interior panelling was offered for sale by Sizergh’s then owner, Walter C. Strickland, during a time of tough economic conditions. The chamber was acquired by the V&A in 1891 for £1000, the chamber was displayed at the museum along with a plaster cast of its ceiling and the slightly later acquisition of the bed and armorial stained glass roundels. From 1973 onwards parts of the chamber and its furnishings were returned on loan to the castle, and finally during a redevelopment of the V&A’s British Galleries, the entire chamber was returned on loan to Sizergh, and reinstated beneath the surviving plaster ceiling in 1999. The chamber and its fittings have remained on loan under a twenty-five year agreement.
Georgina Gates, the collections manager at the castle said “The National Trust is absolutely delighted to be able to now permanently receive the Inlaid Chamber into its collection. It is without doubt the jewel in Sizergh’s crown, making this a highly significant acquisition for us. We will continue to share this truly remarkable example of 16th century craftsmanship with our visitors, and feel exceptionally proud that something so magnificent can once again call Sizergh its permanent home.”