Staff and volunteers at Kiplin Hall and Gardens are celebrating their highest annual visitor figures on record.
In 2021, the venue near Scorton welcomed 30,912 visitors, a 65 per cent increase on the previous busiest year on record in 2017 with visitor figures of 18,700.
The independent charity, Kiplin Hall Trust, relies on income from visitors to operate.
James Etherington, director of Kiplin Hall and Gardens, said: “2020 and 2021 have presented all sectors with challenges, especially museums and heritage which rely on visitor income to operate and fulfill our aims to care for the history of these unique places.
“In 2021 we continued with some of the approaches we laid out after the first 2020 lockdown.
“Creating annual tickets to encourage repeat visits and a greater connection to local communities.
“We also maintained covid secure procedures to a high level and made changes to offer outdoor food options. Our events and exhibition programme was designed to make the most of our outdoor spaces, bringing some of the hall’s history into the fresh air to be enjoyed. As we moved forward into 2021 our main challenge was to welcome a more confident growing family audience alongside our more traditional visitors (retired people) who were more cautious to return.
“Our visitor figures in 2021 have surpassed anything we could have hoped for under the circumstances. We did all of this while also losing 9 weeks, equating to 20 per cent, of our season to lockdown closures.
“I’m incredibly grateful to my team for their work and to our visitors for their support. I hope visitors will continue to support us as we have great things planned for 2022 and beyond.”
In an online review, one visitor describes their experience at Kiplin in 2021 “Exceedingly knowledgeable and friendly staff. Fantastic food. A wholesome place to visit for all the family. Bring your Nan, she’ll adore you for it.”
During 2022 – 2024 a number of developments are planned at Kiplin to continue to enhance its offer to visitors.
Redevelopments of historic gardens are taking place this year.
Lady Tyrconnel’s Georgian Garden is being restored to its former glory complete with its tufa pool made from imported volcanic rock.
The lime tree avenue at the front of the hall will frame views of a Maryland garden which will burn bright with autumnal colour showcasing the state tree, the Maryland Oak.
The lakeside folly will also be used as an ecology centre, helping visitors to learn more about nature and the environment at Kiplin.
A project is also underway to build a new welcome centre near the car park which will house the Annie Marchant Kitchen and Dairy Collection as well as a new ticket office, gift shop and tea room.
The grounds and tea room will reopen for snowdrop strolls on Friday, February 4 and the Hall on Friday, March 11.
Visit www.kiplinhall.co.uk for opening times and prices.