The Staircase - Holker Hall

The Staircase

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The staircase is reached through an archway of polished limestone that was quarried on the Estate at Stainton, near Ulverston. The oak staircase is built on the cantilever principle, i.e. it is self-supporting and each of its balusters - of which there are about 100 - is carved with a different design. It is a magnificent tribute to Victorian craftsmanship. In the staircase well stands an 18th century rent table which was in use on the Estate until 1914. On quarter-days the Estate agent would put payments into the central well and note the amount in the rent book, which was kept in the drawers marked with the tenant's initials. The agent's own account books were kept underneath the table in the central pillar. The missing initials, J and V, were not in common use until a later date. The longcase clock at the top of the stairs, made by Holmes of London, is known as a 'regulator' and from it all the clocks on the Estate were set.

The heraldic designs in the window include a monogram and ducal coronet of the 7th Duke of Devonshire and (from left to right) the coats of arms of the Clifford, Cavendish Howard, Cavendish and Lowther families. The Cavendish family emblem is a snake, and their motto Cavendo tutus is a pun and can be translated as 'Safety through caution' or, proverbially, 'Look before you leap'.