Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Introduction to Kiplin Hall's Architectural and Landscape History

“The attraction of English stately homes is more than just one of architectural appreciation. They mirror the same variety of form that endears the countryside to us, with no one house being the same as the next.”
Trevor Yorke, The Country House Explained

Kiplin Hall, located near Scorton in England’s beautiful North Yorkshire, was built around 1625 by the First Lord Baltimore, George Calvert. Kiplin Hall was built in the Jacobean style (Jacobean refers to King James I of England) and originally was a symmetrical box design featuring two towers on each side of the house. Jacobean styles, along with the preceding Elizabethan style, were influenced by the Renaissance. Built of brick and some stone, Kiplin’s original exterior was very grand for its time and location in the 17th century.

Above: Parts of the original brick diapering are evident on Kiplin Hall's facade today. Diapering is a diagonal pattern of dark bricks formed into a diamond pattern within an overall English or Flemish brick bond.

Typical details of Jacobean Homes are the use of a central hall, symmetrical outward appearance and a long hall. Kiplin originally contained all three. Presently, the long hall is the only detail that remains spatially unaltered with the exeception to paint and decor.
As with most historical homes, changing ownership has left its mark externally and internally. During the 18th century the house was altered to accomodate more residential needs. George Calvert had never lived at Kiplin—preferring to use it as a hunting box and local showcase instead. A central staicase was added during the 18th century and the renovations took out the south tower staircase, but left the north tower’s stairs for use by servants. Kiplin’s landscape was also changed by added acreage and the creation of a serpentine lake that wound in front of the west facade. During this period, the road that ran in front of the east facade was altered to wind its way around the estate and allowed the current owners a chance to build the estate wall that now remains (albeit altered materially in places). The 1818 total acreage for Kiplin Hall was at 4500 acres.
Parkland lime trees that once lined a grand drive to Kiplin Hall's main entrance.

During the 19th century a Gothic style sitting room was added to the south area of the house—completely demolishing the remnants of the south tower. Updated service buildings were added and by 1890, an extensive servant’s wing was built. During this time the Gothic sitting room was made more architecturally fashionable and turned into a library. The formal gardens were added, complete with a sunken tennis court and avenue of limes (not the citrus limes). During World War II, the serpentine lake was stopped. By the late 20th century, the Victorian era service wing was mostly demolished. However, remnants of the Victorian servants wing are still evident in the “shadows” of the torn down buildings on the existing exterior walls of the Warden’s cottage. A lake was added along the west facade and filled in the land where it had been quarried for gravel (seen at right). Currently, the estate retains only around 150 acres of its original lands.
Conservation of landscape and buildings is a key issue in places such as Kiplin where funds are always needed for proper upkeep and maintenance of objects. Kiplin underwent a ‘restoration’ in the late 1970s to 1990s that served as a means to stabalize the house and control temperatures and pests. Kiplin Hall now serves as a house museum and is open to the public for tours. The gardens and surrounding parkland are also available to the public.
-Haley Grant

For further reading:
Watkin, David. English Architecture: A Concise History. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
Webster, Dawn with the Kiplin Hall Trust. Kiplin Hall. Spain: Graficas Santamaria, 2005.
Yorke, Trevor. The Country House Explained. Newbury, England: Countryside Books, 2005.

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