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Centuries old royal gift goes on show for the first time

A thank you present from a king and queen in exile to one of their supporters is about to get its first ever public viewing. A silk bedspread, given by King James II and his wife, Maria of Modena, to a family who accompanied them into exile following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 will be displayed in Cumbria.

Visitors to Sizergh Castle will now be able to view the 300 year old piece which was made in Goa and which features intricate embroidery of mythical creatures worked in gold thread on satin.

It was given to Sir Thomas Strickland and his wife, Winifred, after their continued loyalty to James II who lost his throne to his elder daughter, Mary II, and her husband, William III. Sir Thomas had been a staunch supporter of the Stuarts from his earliest days. As a young man he commanded the regiment of foot for the royalists at the Battle of Edgehill during the English Civil War. By the time of the reign of James II he was a member of the Privy Council and headed into exile with the king following his deposition.

As a reward, Sir Thomas was given several valuable presents by James including some of the Imari porcelain collected by his queen, Maria. The royal couple also presented their loyal servants with a lock of the king’s hair. Sir Thomas Strickland died in exile, in Rouen in France, but his castle and his belongings were inherited by his eldest son, Walter, and the bedspread made its way to Cumbria.

It’s now part of the collection managed by the National Trust at Sizergh Castle which was gifted the building by the Stricklands in 1950. The estate has other royal links, too, as Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, is believed to have lived here briefly after the death of her first husband in 1533.

Sizergh opened its doors to visitors again on March 16th this year and its season runs until October 27th 2019. The chance to see the bedspread is included in the admission price (£12 per adult, £6 per child, free to members of the National Trust).

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.