Muncaster Castle in Cumbria is one of four stately homes featured in ‘The Guest Wing’, a new series from Sky Atlantic which shows that living the life of an aristocrat, surrounded by antique marquetry furniture and portraits of your ancestors, might not be as glamorous as it seems.
All but one of the properties featured on the Guest Wing are located up north – Maunsel House, in Somerset. The others are Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, Carlton Towers, East Yorkshire and Muncaster. It seems that privilege and a title are no longer enough to ensure living in the ancestral home. Crumbling 16th century castles take a lot of upkeep, and with escalating utility bills and the antique cabinets to keep polished (these days staff expect a living wage, rather than a space under the eaves) the dwindling stocks of ‘old money’ soon run out. This is why the aristocratic owners of those antique balloon backed dining chairs in Cumbria are letting wedding guests loose on them, and why – for a price – guests can retire to a 17th century chamber afterwards, complete with four-poster bed and resident ghost.
From weekend breaks to stag parties, it seems the hoi polloi are more than willing to fork out several hundred pounds for the chance to live like a lord for a couple of days – and the aristocrats are welcoming them with open arms. Muncaster Castle is actually open for guided tours on selected days, so you can see the Open Bookcases and antique desks without actually staying there. Better still, why not buy your own Victorian oak pedestal desk , from a Cumbria antique dealer?
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