Designing furniture for a former knight’s castle
What would it be like to live in a real historical castle? The servants, battles and gentry may not be a fixture of modern day castle living, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to buy into an exclusive slice of history.
Image kindly provided with permission from Savills: Private terrace, The Cromwell Wing
Thurland Castle is an impressive moated castle dating back to the 14th century. Located in Tunstall, Lancashire, the Castle has faced rack and ruin over the centuries to become what it is today; an impressive residential development comprised of luxury apartments and stable conversions.
After careful restoration, the castle interiors are influenced by rich fabrics, heavy woods and oak panelled walls – despite the fact that not every converted room was once part of the opulent former living quarters. Current residents enjoy kitchens which were originally gun rooms, reception rooms which were once servants’ quarters and even a bedroom which was once a chapel.
Image kindly provided by Savills: The Drawing Room, Cromwell Wing
As would be imagined from such a grand residence, the individual properties all come equipped with charming titles such as The Viking Wing, Bronte House and the Cromwell Wing. The names reflect the genuine history of the building, with The Bronte House titled in Charlotte Bronte’s honour who, after studying in neighbouring Leck, would take a detour through the Castle grounds.
It can be assumed the Cromwell Wing was named in relation to the siege and as for the Viking Wing, it was believed a Norseman, Thor, staked his claim to the Lunesdale area, hence Thor’s Land (Thursland).
Going back in history
With the earliest remains classified as 14th Century, it is documented that Sir Thomas Tunstall founded the castle and was given a license to add ‘crenels’ (architectural gaps designed for defensive firing) in 1402. The Castle then naturally passed down to Sir Thomas’s son Bryan. Known as the ‘Stainless Knight’ (coined by the King), Bryan was a hero in the 1513 Battle of Flodden. Understandably, this has made the property even more desirable to history enthusiasts.
After inhabitation by a few generations of Tunstalls, including Bryan’s son Marmaduke who occupied the position of High Sheriff of Lancashire (1544), the Castle was sold to John Girlington in 1605.
The Castle was declared ruinous after a Civil War siege in 1643 and remnants of this attack can still be seen today – cannonballs have been found in the working moat when it has been drained. After falling into disrepair, restoration took place in 1809 by Jeffrey Wyattville and again in 1829 by George Webster, however the Castle was later devastated by fire in 1876.
The building that now sits in splendour and encompasses 12 luxury properties is largely the work of architects Paley and Austin. After the fire 3 years earlier, they were commissioned to rebuild the ruined Castle in 1879.
Today the property is a beautiful reflection of modern design and original architecture. With elaborate cornicing decorating the ceilings and original fireplaces bringing the rooms to life, the interior design brief stipulated both opulence and sensitivity towards the history of this Grade II* listed building.
We were commissioned to design a bedroom in Thurland Cottage which reflected this very brief. The old plant room, located in the former stable block, was transformed into a bedroom and dressing room which would complement the traditional elements of the property.
Thurland cottage, located in the old stable block. Fitted oak bedroom furniture by Lomax Interiors.
The cabinets and dressing room were designed and manufactured using oak and burr in our own workshop. With an angular, irregular hexagonal shaped room, the furniture was designed to wrap around this unique shape and add warmth and understated character to this unusual space.
Image kindly provided by Savills
The Cromwell Wing is possibly one of the best examples of the castle’s sumptuous modern décor. With rich hardwood panelling, ceiling cornicing and leaded windows, the space bridges the gap between modern and traditional effortlessly. There’s even a Bang and Olufsen sound system wired throughout the property, proving that despite the listed status, the castle is very much up to luxurious modern standards!
If you’re looking for a bespoke furniture maker to create a design for your period property, please contact us and share your ideas. We’re confident we can devise a beautiful, sensitive solution for your space.