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 Second World War kitchen and bathroom

From the grandeur of the rooms enjoyed so far these rooms are a stark contrast by comparison and show visitors that the history of grand country houses has not always been rosy. The Second World War Kitchen and Yellow Bathroom are vestiges of Kiplin’s conversion into flats during the Second World War. From late 1939 the hall was used by the Armed Forces.

In June 1940, men of the 1st Battalion The East Lancashire Regiment, who had been rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, came to Kiplin.

From 1942 to 1944, Kiplin was requisitioned by the RAF as a Maintenance Unit, supplying bombs and ammunition to the local airfields. There were bomb and ammunition dumps in the woods nearby. The hall was turned into flats for officers with the men living in outbuildings.

Miss Bridget Talbot, the last owner of Kiplin Hall before it went into trust, wrote a moving account of the Dunkirk arrival in 1940 that she circulated to newspapers: “After Dunkirk a regiment was given a rendezvous at the house; all day and all night straggling and exhausted men arrived.

The Northern Echo:

The now rundown bathroom would have been a luxury of officers. The rest of the men camped in the grounds

“The owner did everything that was possible in the way of collecting food, blankets and cushions and by three the next afternoon every floor was covered with men sleeping as if dead. It was a sight never to be forgotten with the hot sun streaming in at the windows on to the pictures, old furniture, the walls of books and the floor a silent carpet of prostrate khaki figures.

“With the help of a little gardening, bathing in the river and sleeping these Dunkirk men gradually recovered from their weariness and mended their shattered nerves.”

Like most requisitioned houses, considerable damage was done to Kiplin Hall during the war. Many country houses that had been requisitioned were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s because families could not afford to restore them or to pay the high death duties and land taxes.

The Northern Echo:

Ammunition and bombs were stored in woodland in the grounds of Kiplin to supply local airfields during the Second World War

Bridget Talbot campaigned for years to get compensation for the damage done to Kiplin during the war – she wrote plays, issued press releases, visited Maryland in the USA (George Calvert, who built Kiplin Hall also founded the settlement that is now Maryland) and even sent petitions to Downing Street, but with little success.

Kiplin Hall is one of the very few houses that was subsequently neither demolished nor completely restored. The hall was left almost derelict, although the flats were occupied, albeit in a very poor state of repair, until the 1980s.

The Northern Echo:

Kiplin Hall, a gem in the crown of our local history with far reaching influences around the world

What is now the Second World War Kitchen was a bedroom in the 18th Century. In the Georgian period the room was partitioned to create a dressing room in what is now the Yellow Bathroom. The Yellow Bathroom now comprises of a Georgian fireplace, Victorian bath, 1950s’ plastic curtains and 1960s’ yellow wallpaper. A bit of a mishmash, but each one an important layer in the story of this house. Next week we explore the exotic in the Traveller’s Bedroom...