The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £42,500 to Kiplin Hall for its role in an important collaborative venture by the Yorkshire Country House Partnership.
The project, The Yorkshire Country House in Time of War, is due to start this autumn and lead up to and through the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.
Seven other Yorkshire houses are taking part including Castle Howard, Newby Hall and Beningborough Hall.
Each of the eight properties has plans to undertake tasks relevant to the house and its succession of owners, such as research and conservation, and some, including Kiplin Hall, will present a public exhibition, which will link the participating houses.
Kiplin Hall’s individual project focuses on two aspects of war and the country house. Firstly, the people linked to Kiplin who experienced wars at different periods of history between the 17th and 20th centuries, the owners and their families, those who worked in the house or on the estate, and the local community.
The second area examines the effect of war on the hall, estate and local community, particularly during the Second World War, when the hall was requisitioned by the Army. In June 1940, men from the 1st Battalion The East Lancashire Regiment came to Kiplin to recover after being rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk. In 1942, the RAF took over and Kiplin became a Munitions Unit supplying the local airfields with bombs. The Hall was turned into flats for RAF officers, with the men living in the grounds and surrounding area.
Archival research and oral history are a key part of the project. Documents held at Kiplin Hall and at the North Yorkshire County Record Office form a major archive for the house and its history. Some of this archive is still unexamined, but the HLF Grant will facilitate research, the results of which will be made available to visitors to Kiplin and online through the Hall and the Partnership’s websites. The recollections of WWII veterans linked to Kiplin Hall and the local airfields, as well as local people evacuated as children to the area, will be gathered by a small team of volunteers.
The grant also enables the conservation of a kitchen and bathroom on the first floor from one of the hall’s WWII flats – rare survivors of wartime requisitioning of a country house, which are now in a fragile condition and require work to ensure that they are preserved for the future. These rooms are always popular with visitors who have memories of the period and are an important reminder of how country houses were used during the Second World War.
Kiplin Hall Curator, Dawn Webster, said: “We are delighted to have received this funding. I am sure much fascinating information will be discovered.
“We are particularly hoping to find people who recollect the Second World War, either as RAF or ground personnel at the munitions unit at Kiplin or on the airfields at Scorton, Catterick, Croft and Middleton-St. George, which were supplied with bombs and ammunition from Kiplin. I am sure there are local people who still remember the role played by these units, the aeroplanes that crashed in this area or who, as children, played on the airfields after the war. Any information or photographs would be incredibly valuable. Evacuees also have a major part to play in this oral history project. Contact Kiplin Hall on 01748 818178.