Four-hundred-year-old cupboard is ‘coming home’ to Tamworth in memory of ‘Friend of the Castle’

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019

A BEAUTIFUL carved piece of furniture dated 1633, that belonged to a family that lived at Tamworth Castle, has returned to its home-ground, in memory of Jenny Wilson, a long-standing member of the Friends of Tamworth Castle.

The carved piece, known as a ‘court cupboard’, is a 17thcentury oak sideboard for displaying and storing the cutlery and plates of the time. This 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 over 400 years ago.

This is an important piece of furniture as it is the first piece attributed to the castle’s family owners to be acquired for the castle since the ancient 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 20thLord of Tamworth Castle, inheriting the castle in 1633 from his father, Sir John Ferrers III.

Sir Humphrey married Ann Packington, daughter of Sir John Packington of Hampton Lovett, in 1618. It is believed that the court 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, 1633.

An interesting and unique detail of the cupboard is the two carved cockerels which support the top shelf. These are symbols of the Cockayne family who first married into the Ferrers family in 1540. These cockerels make up part of the Ferrrers coat of arms, which can been found in the castle withdrawing room.

This 1633 cupboard has been purchased in memory of Jenny Wilson, a member of the Friends of Tamworth Castle, who passed away in January this year. Jenny would help polish the castle’s furniture weekly, telling other castle staff that she was taught how to clean antique furniture correctly by her mother who cleaned the local church.

The unveiling of the cupboard took place last Friday at the castle. Special guests attended including Jenny Wilson’s son, Jeremy, and daughter-in-law Lisa, who travelled from their home in Australia to be there for the occasion.

READ MORE: Tamworth Castle watercolour raises £1500 for Macmillan

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!”

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