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About Gilling Castle
Gilling Castle rises above Gilling East in a fabulous setting between the Hambledon and Howardian Hills.
The house is singularly beautiful, it demonstrates a fascinating mixture of building styles built around a central Tudor block which stands on the earlier foundations of the 14th century tower house belonging to Thomas of Etton. The house was added to in the 18th century, with wings thought to be the work of either Vanbrugh, Wakefield or Gibbs.
For over 500 years this was the home of the Fairfax family. In Elizabethan times Thomas Fairfax added the solar, this is well preserved and on occasions is open for viewing by the public.
Much of the building remains in its original state, with the most impressive feature of the building apart from its beautiful chimney-pieces, being the heraldic shields found in the stained glass windows of the Great Hall. Interestingly, when parts of the castle were sold off in 1930 this glass was purchased by William Randolph Hearst, the American publisher. Following Hearst's death in 1951, these were found still in their original packing cases - fortunately they were able to be re-purchased and returned to Gilling Castle.
The three windows of the Great Hall possess stained glass heraldic shields mainly in connection with the Fairfax family. The main bay window shows the arms of William Fairfax himself. In the South window is the arms of the Stapleton family - Jane Stapleton was William's second wife, the glass also depicts some of this families connections. William's son Thomas married Catherine Constable of Burton Constable, this family and their connections are commemorated by heraldic shields in the East window. The Fairfax and Stapleton windows carry the date and signature of Bernard Dininckhoff, the other window is of a later date.
There is superb wall panelling to be seen in the Great Chamber and a beautiful painted frieze above the panelling shows family trees bearing 370 coats of arms. This magnificent room is completed by a ceiling with a pattern of ribs and pendants.
In the gracious entrance hall visitors can see Corinthian columns and stucco work by Cortese. The Long Gallery was sold off at the same time as the glass was sold to Hearst, this is now in the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle.
Today, the castle is a school. The Hall and grounds are open for most of the summer.
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