At Kiplin Hall and Gardens you’ll encounter 400 years worth of stories about adventures enjoyed by members of the four families who lived there – the Calverts, Crowes, Carpenters, and Talbots. During the current Covid-19 lockdown, we’d like to share with you a glimpse through the keyhole, exploring the different rooms. Today we venture into the library

This stunning room is not quite what you’d expect from a library. Yes, the walls are lined with books, but the room is furnished in a homely and welcoming way. Built in 1820 by John and Sarah Carpenter, this was a new Gothic-style extension to the existing house in which to entertain their guests.

The large heraldic stained-glass windows celebrate the family pedigree, linking back to King John, as well as showing biblical scenes.

In 1887, Admiral Carpenter had Jacobean-style panelling installed and commissioned the imposing fireplace, turning this room into a handsome, comfortable library in which subsequent family members studied, enjoyed hobbies and entertained.

The Northern Echo:

In 1891, Admiral Carpenter removed the stained-glass from windows on the south side of the room, replacing them with clear glass. The biblical stained glass panels were discovered in an outbuilding in 2004 and were restored to the library.

Overhead is the white plaster ceiling that Admiral Carpenter commissioned, with the symbols of the Carpenter and Talbot families – a library globe on a stand and a cockerel for the Carpenters, and a lion and the head of a dragon for the Talbots.

In the four corners of the room are paintings collected in Europe by Christopher Crowe, who owned the house from 1722.

There are lots of pointers towards jollity at Kiplin. For instance, in the paintings we can see carnival masks and ladies showing off their charms.

Historic paintings and photographs all show a piano in the library. The one in the room today is an 1856 Erard grand piano.

The Northern Echo:

Kiplin has a rich music collection consisting largely of European waltzes and operas in addition to local folk songs and manuscripts. This varied collection points towards well-travelled, cultured occupants with a penchant for entertaining and making merry.

A new feature to the display this year includes recordings of music from the collection. A delight to be enjoyed in situ once the hall re-opens. Or the records can be heard on Kiplin’s Facebook page. There certainly isn’t a tradition of shushing in this library.

There are several beautifully made pieces of furniture in the library, particularly the table beside the settee, which shows a hopeful scene of the animals disembarking from Noah’s Ark, made by Admiral Carpenter’s second wife, Beatrice de Grey. Beatrice and her three sisters were heavily involved within the Arts and Crafts Movement. Indeed, the quality and proliferation of their work merited frequent mention and praise in the design “bible” of the period, The Studio Magazine, displayed on the table left of the fireplace.

The Northern Echo:

The library at Kiplin was, and remains, a bright and beautiful, shared use environment.

Dripping with literature and tales of overseas travel and influence, filled with music from near and far, decorated with Italian paintings, and huge blue and white Chinese jars from the Kangxi period of the late 17th/early 18th Century.

From here we venture through to the more formal space of the dining room, but we will leave that for our next visit.