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The Manor & Grounds » These Are A Few Of Our Favourite Things

Chosen by the Maintenance Team

The Children's Room Door

The door is usually open and visitors just past through it to take a look in the Children’s Room but it repays a careful look with its original door pull on the outer side. Alan finds the door such a piece of craftsmanship that it deserves more attention. He says “It’s easy to imagine all the generations which have lived in the house when you look at that door. You can almost feel their spirits in the Children’s Room.” The lock is usually hidden against the wall but, when the experts find it, they get excited for it is one of the few early locks left in place. We know there is a similar one in one of the Royal Historic Palaces.

Chosen by Baroness Knight of Collingtree DBE, Honorary President of the Sulgrave Manor Trust

The 16th century bed, with inset Baroness Knght.
The 16th century bed, with
inset Baroness Knight.
The New Elizabethan Embroideries

The hangings, which adorn the 16th century bed in the Great Chamber form the modern core of the Manor's astounding collection of textiles. Baroness Knight was, from its beginning in 1995, a strong supporter of the volunteer project which brought, after 10 years, these fantastic hangings to create the truly colourful atmosphere of Tudor times. When asked to nominate her 'favourite thing', she had no doubts: "it must be the NEE".

The hangings were made in a traditional 16th century way : individual slips (small canvas-work designs) were all stitched by volunteers on both sides of the Atlantic and sewn on to a rich pile fabric and then embellished with free embroidery, often using metallic thread. The slip designs were based on motifs elsewhere in the house or symbolic of its role as a symbol of Anglo-American friendship.

Chosen by Jenny Overson of the Guides team

Jenny Overson with the spice tower.
Jenny Overson with
the spice tower.
The Spice Tower in the Great Kitchen

This enigmatic object stands quietly at a corner of the mantle above the hearth. Many who pass through the kitchen never even notice it. But it is the one object in the house that might tempt an up-standing lady to dishonesty - if it ever disappears we'll know whose house to go to! Jenny loves it for the wonderful varnished sycamore wood and the way it keeps its secret - that it is in fact a very utilitarian storage device - in such a public place.

Composed of four tubs, each of which screws into the ones above and below it, it is a masterpiece of 18th century woodwork for the life of the spices depended upon as airtight a fit in the screw join.

These towers are quite rare as being kept in steamy kitchens they invariably split and fall apart.

Chosen by Gwyn Davies of the Guides team

Gwyn Davies by the salt cupboard.
Gwyn Davies by the salt cupboard.
The Salt Cupboard in the Great Hall

"Most people think it's a safe" says Gwyn "and in a way it is. Salt was one of the most expensive commodities and was kept under lock and key by the Lady of the Manor to be given out to the Cook when needed. That's why the cupboard's in the hall not the kitchen. I like seeing Lawrence Washington's initials on it - the only place inside the house which has them."

When possible, Gwyn encourages visitors to put their head into the great hearth where they can see the grill cut into the side of the hearth letting heat into the cupboard to keep the salt dry. Other herbs and spices would have shared the space but as salt was the predominant one, the cupboard is named after it.

Cupboards such as these are sometimes described as being for the storage of reeds used to make rush lights which had to be kept very dry to serve their purpose. But there would be no need to lock such a cupboard since reeds were not expensive in themselves so - like most modern cupboards - it was probably multi-purpose!

Chosen by Anne Webb of the Education and office team

Anne Webb with the dole cupboard.
Anne Webb with the dole cupboard.
The Dole or Livery Cupboard in the Great Hall

Anne loves the feel of the inlaid and intricate dole cupboard which hangs in the Great Hall. It was described by the Keeper of Woodwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum as "an outstanding specimen of English furniture of its (Elizabethan) period."

It was given to Sulgrave in the 1930s by Mrs Eleanor Hope who asked that it should be called the Eleanor Hope Cupboard.

Made of oak and inlaid with holly and bog oak in a geometrical and herring-bone pattern, it was used to store food to be doled out or delivered (French livré) to the poor.

Chosen by Thea Young of the Guiding Team

Thea loves the stories she can weave around the embroidery in the Oak Parlour's pole screen - the dog who looks as if he might be off after the rabbit soon; the incongruity of the finely dressed lady and gentleman tending sheep; the comfortable houses in the background with their smoking chimneys. Firescreens were popular in the early 18th century from which this one dates - they helped protect the ladies' waxy make-up from being melted by heat from the fire!

Chosen by Conrad Woolley of the Education Team

Conrad, in his persona of Mr Washington, when he works with the 9,000 school children who take part each year in our education programme, carries a replica of this Tudor English sword so it's not surprising it's his favourite. Little is known so far about this sword which was acquired by the Manor relatively recently.

Chosen by Angela Jakeman of the Maintenance Team

The long case clock in the Oak Parlour, made by Thomas Utting of Great Yarmouth between 1720 and 1760. The fashion was to 'japan' the English made case to satisfy the demand for Oriental style amongst those who could not afford the real thing.

The clock was repaired in 2004 following a generous donation from the American Wives Club of St. John's Wood, London.