Kiplin Hall unveils plans for new welcome centre

Kiplin Hall.

A leading North Yorkshire heritage attraction has unveiled a proposal for one of the most significant changes it has seen in 400 years, with the introduction of a modern welcome centre just yards from the highly protected property.

The custodians of Grade I listed Jacobean manor house Kiplin Hall, near Scorton, have applied to Hambleton District Council for consent to build a revenue-generating building over the historic drying yard, saying the attraction needs more space due to a surge in visitors since the pandemic and a more effective place to stop thousands of people walking in without paying.

Due to the hall – which was built in 1620s by Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland in the US and Secretary of State to James I – being among North Yorkshire’s most highly protected buildings the proposals will be scrutinised by several conservation bodies.

Alongside the grade I listed manor house there are seven other listed properties in the 130-acre grounds. The proposals follow the charity’s acquisition of the collection of antiques dealer Annie Marchant Kitchen, which came with a linked capital bequest.

In planning papers lodged with the authority agents for the charity said the welcome centre proposal had been developed with input from Historic England and would sensitively transform and conserve the underutilised drying yard as part of “a new visitor arrival journey”.

The welcome centre would feature spaces for ticketing, a shop, tearoom, kitchen and an exhibition highlighting the lives of staff who have worked at the hall over the centuries.

Documents filed with the application state while annual visitor numbers had settled at around 17,000 before the pandemic, the charity’s expenditure exceeded had been exceeding its income by an average of 25 per cent.

The papers state: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kiplin Hall has welcomed many new local visitors and in 2021 the total was more than 30,000. While numbers will not remain at this level post-pandemic, it is essential that the hall retain as many of their new visitors as possible.

“The critical factor is the existing visitor infrastructure: the tearoom, shop and kitchen are currently situated in the historic hall with no scope for improvement nor expansion.”

The papers state while visitor numbers have grown by 65 per cent since the pandemic, visitor income had only risen by 20 per cent because the shop and tearoom were unable to cope with the expanded numbers.

They added its research had found more than one in five of “people coming down the drive do not pay” and the welcome centre would allow the charity to have a single entry point, improving safety and security.

Agents for the charity stated: “Kiplin currently lacks a unified point to tell its story of 400 years, four families and the connection between a peaceful Yorkshire estate and the wider world.”