When I visited, the house could only be visited as part of a tour. These run every 20 minutes. Photography is not allowed inside the house.
A short flight of stone steps leads up to the main entrance and the four storied pele tower is to the right.
The doorway leads directly into the “Great Hall”:https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-the-great-hall-levens-hall-south-lakeland-cumbria-england-uk-112667398.html with wood panelling, brass sconces and a lovely plaster ceiling. The badges above the panelling are of the different members of the Bellingham family. Above the fireplace are the royal coat of arms of Elizabeth I. The armour hanging on the walls is parliamentary armour from the Civil War, which was found in the attics. The pair of pistols above the fireplace are a matched pair dating from 1601 and made for James Bellingham.
It is a homely room with sofas and a log burner. Logs are stored in one of the old brewing barrels. Hanging on the wall near this is a saddle belonging to the Emperor Napoleon and was ‘acquired’ by the Duke of Wellington.
The tour continues into the “Large Drawing Room”:http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ZG6o7ikOprQ/UXP3guartYI/AAAAAAAABMc/rCLbR1F-GHU/s1600/drawing_room.jpg
which was part of the rebuilt pele tower. The size of the windows reflect the wealth of the Bellingham family, which came from wool. There are stained glass armorial arms in the top of the windows. There is more panelling and a splendid carved overmantle with the arms of Elizabeth I. Above the door leading into the small drawing room is a small carved effigy of James Bellingham, the only image of him.
The small drawing room was also part of the pele tower and overlooks the topiary garden. The elaborate carved “overmantle”:https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-the-interior-of-levens-hall-south-lakeland-cumbria-england-uk-112667691.html depicts the five senses with two panels depicting the four elements (left) and the four seasons (right). There is a display cabinet with Dresden figures of Napoleon and his marshals and a pair of gloves belonging to Wellington. In another cabinet are the original deeds from 1170.
A splendid oak stair case leads to the bedrooms. One wall is covered with Moroccan leather. The other is panelled.
The bedrooms were repanelled and refurnished in the early C19th by Mary Howard.
The first bedroom is the
“Redman Room”:https://tinyurl.com/yy7n36xc with a four poster bed which is still used by visitors and is, apparently, very uncomfortable. It is C19th and made using wood brought in as ballast. The large embroidered panel on the wall was the work of Mary Andover, who was a very good needlewoman. She had embroidered seat covers and this was intended to be a settee but she died before it was finished.
In the dressing room next to the Redman bedroom is a bed covered with a patchwork quilt made in 1708 from Indian cotton and twenty two stitches per inch. It is some of the oldest patchwork in England.
Next to this is a display room which contains the robes worn at the coronation of George IV. There are more Napoleon artefacts, including an individual Sevres tea service and the “metal bee clasps”:https://ageofrevolution.org/200-object/clasp-from-napoleons-cloak/ from his cloak worn at the Battle of Waterloo.
In the small dressing room off is a folding campaign bed belonging to Wellington and also a rocking horse and babies crib with baby clothes.
The tour continues back down the main staircase into the Great hall and up three steps into the “Library and Small Sitting Room.”:https://tinyurl.com/29ssa2pk This used to be the buttery and a door led into the dining room. Food was brought up from the kitchens into this room and then taken into the dining room to be served. Mary Howard got so fed up of eating cold food she installed a dumb waiter directly from the kitchen to the to the dining room. She turned the buttery into a library and small sitting room.
The “Dining Room”:https://www.levenshall.co.uk/content/921/Live/image/dining_room.jpg is now entered up stairs from the Great Hall. This is almost an overpowering room with low plaster ceiling and Moroccan leather on three of the walls.
The leather came from Holland but the decoration was a done by Moors in Cordoba. Calf skin was tanned and then covered with a thin layer of silver and two coats of varnish. The pattern was punched out on the rear side using wooden moulds. The leather was then turned over and hand painted, before being hung on the walls. This was beginning to degrade so Mary Howard had the leather removed and mounted on wooden panels that could be reattached to the walls and prevent further degradation. There is also a screen made from pieces of the leather.
The tour finishes back in the Great Hall
This is an excellent visit. The guide was interesting and entertaining and the house was full of hidden surprises. It is still a much loved family home.