For the first time in its history, the 17th-century Goan bedspread of King James II will go on public display at Sizergh as the castle opens its doors this Saturday, 16 March.
The Indian bedspread is made from satin, with gold thread stitched into an intricate design of mythical creatures, and was gifted to the Strickland family of Sizergh in the 1600s as a thank you for their loyalty.
Sir Thomas and Winifred Strickland were considered close friends of the King and Queen having accompanied them in 1688 to France in exile. Sizergh’s collection includes many of the gifts which the family received in gratitude, including a lock of the King’s hair and the Queen’s collection of Imari porcelain.
The exhibition space allows visitors to learn more about how the delicate fabric at Sizergh is cared for and a specialist textile conservator will be working on the bedspread over the coming months.
The castle will also be shining a light on another of its fabric items in the collection – a complete set of five 17th-century Antony and Cleopatra Flemish tapestries. Later this year, the first tapestry in the set, ‘The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra’, will travel to Belgium for urgent specialist treatment to restore its colour and condition. The five wall hangings depict Plutarch’s (and subsequently Shakespeare’s) famous stories and are the largest surviving weaving of this series in the world.
The treatment for this one tapestry will cost £77,000 in total so the castle will be raising funds through raffle tickets and donations throughout the year.
The house is open Tuesday-Sunday, 12-4pm, from 16 March-27 October and is free to enter for National Trust members. The gardens, shop and café are open 7 days a week.