At Kiplin Hall you’ll encounter of stories about international adventure enjoyed by members of the four families who lived there – the Calverts, Crowes, Carpenters, and Talbots. During the current lockdown we’d like to share a glimpse through the keyhole, exploring a different room each week. This week we move into the drawing room

When you think of a drawing room you may well picture a stiff, formal, Victorian space for entertaining guests. Much like the beautiful drawing room downstairs, which is the first room visitors enter at Kiplin Hall.

Upstairs, this part of the hall is much like an apartment, with the Green Bedroom leading to this Upper Drawing Room. Here we start to explore changes, challenging the cultural norms of the day in the Victoria era.

Displayed in this room are works of art by the de Grey sisters. We know from informal family photographs and correspondence that they had a more relaxed outlook, almost bohemian, and were greatly impacted by the Arts and Crafts Movement.

The skill and prowess of the de Grey sisters was well earned. Kiplin’s collection contains innumerable copies of master paintings and family portraits by Beatrice and Emily de Grey. Indeed, most of the works adorning the walls in this room and the sketches on the central table are copies by Beatrice or Emily de Grey.

Beatrice Carpenter also designed the small wooden casket (log box) inlaid with an image of two putti – look out for the painting that now hangs upstairs in the Long Gallery that inspired the design.

The sisters were prolific and hardworking. They also shared their skills teaching local men who attended carpentry classes at Kiplin in the late 19th century. Did they know they would pave the way for strong, self-directed women of independent means to follow in ownership of Kiplin?

The Northern Echo:

Bridget Talbot as a child, painted with leaves in her hair, giving a bohemian fee

In 1904, Admiral Carpenter died leaving Kiplin to his daughter, Sarah Carpenter, who rented the hall out to tenants and sold off much of the land and property reducing the estate from over 5,000 acres to only 120 acres. Documents drawn up during this time are displayed on the pietra dura table to the right of the fireplace.

Sarah Carpenter married Christopher Turner of Stoke Rochford, Lincolnshire and in 1921 The Stoke Rochford Land Management and Development Company took over responsibility for Kiplin. However, the lack of income for maintenance marked almost a century of decline at Kiplin. Sarah and Christopher didn’t have children, but Sarah’s cousin, Bridget Talbot, had experience campaigning to save historic houses and land. Bridget Talbot bought the hall in 1937 and inherited what remained of the estate in 1957.

The Northern Echo:

Talented artists the de Grey sisters produced many designs for wooden inlay

An active and passionate individual, Miss Talbot was a remarkable woman with a strong social conscience that drove her to sit nursing examinations in 1914.

In 1915, she served with the Pro Italia group on the Austrian-Italian front where she received and tended soldiers wounded in the trenches. When the Red Cross took over this work in 1917 she remained with them. She worked with Russian refugees and later invented a waterproof torch that, after much campaigning, was finally issued to all Merchant Navy, Royal Navy and Air Force personnel during the Second World War.

In 1920, she was awarded the OBE and the Italian medal for valour, the Croce de Guerra, for her work, both of which are displayed in the cabinet to the left of the George IV mahogany secretaire bookcase.

Miss Talbot enjoyed a very close relationship with her younger brother, Geoffrey Talbot, who died in active service as an RAF Flight Lieutenant in 1916. The table between the two settees displays correspondence sent to Geoffrey whilst Bridget was nursing in Italy during the First World War. Displayed on the 1825 mahogany secretaire bookcase is further correspondence from this time from Geoffrey to his sister.

After exhaustive efforts trying to engage organisations from the National Trust to educational and environmental groups in the hope of securing a use and future for Kiplin, Miss Talbot eventually set up the Kiplin Hall Trust and registered it with the Charity Commission in 1968.

The Northern Echo:

Inside the Walled Garden. The grounds of Kiplin Hall and Gardens are now reopening as part of a phased easing of the lockdown

Miss Talbot died at Kiplin in 1971 leaving a virtually derelict hall and its decaying contents to the trustees in her will. Today, she is credited with saving the hall for the nation.

From this intimate family space visitors step through a door, and almost travel through time, seeing the hall as it was when used by the RAF during the Second World War.