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Published May 21st 2019
Norman Castle Boosted By Return Of 17th Century Furniture
A new attraction has been unveiled at a medieval castle in Staffordshire for its thousands of visitors. A near 400 year old piece of furniture has been restored to Tamworth Castle, which was built in the 11th century following the successful Norman invasion. And pride of place at the unveiling ceremony was a man, now living in Australia, whose mother used to clean the antique furniture at Tamworth Castle. The beautiful carved piece of furniture, which dates back to 1633, had previously belonged to a family that lived at the castle. It has returned to its former home in memory of Jenny Wilson, a long-standing member of the Friends of Tamworth Castle, who passed away in January this year. Special guests at the unveiling included Jenny's son, Jeremy, and daughter-in-law Lisa, who travelled from their home in Australia to be there for the occasion.
The 17th century piece of furniture in question, known as a 'court cupboard', is an oak sideboard used for displaying and storing cutlery and plates. The item is believed to have been made as a wedding anniversary gift, due to its detail and carvings, for the Ferrers family, who lived at the castle more than 400 years ago. The cupboard is regarded as important as it is the first piece of furniture attributed to Tamworth castle's family owners to be acquired for the castle since the building was purchased by Tamworth Borough Council in 1897. The cupboard got its name 'court' from the Norman word for 'short'. They were only seen in wealthy households, as these grand cupboards would be very expensive to build. The piece has carved into the door at the front, 'Sir Humphrey Ferrers Knight' and Dame Anne –'Anne neè Packington'. Sir Humphrey Ferrers III was born in 1585 and was the 20th Lord of Tamworth Castle, inheriting the building in 1633 from his father, Sir John Ferrers III. It is believed the cupboard was a 15-year wedding anniversary gift. Sadly, Sir Humphrey only survived his father by less than a year, inheriting the castle in 1633, but dying at the age of 33 on November 2nd the same year.
Jeremy and Lisa with Sarah Williams, Collections Officer for Tamworth Castle, in the centre
Jeremy said: "My mom loved the castle and always spent time over the years in the historic building either selling ice creams or sweets at the kiosk; or in recent years, cleaning and polishing the furniture displays. Mom was very fond of the castle and its history. She had a painting of the building in her house, which we have now taken to our home in Australia. We were delighted to put the funeral donations towards the cost of the cupboard and look forward to bringing our children over to see the cupboard on display in the day-parlour room in the castle. We hope many visitors will enjoy seeing the cupboard for another 400 years to come!"
The 17th century 'court cupboard' back at Tamworth Castle