At Kiplin Hall you’ll encounter of stories about adventure enjoyed by members of the four families who lived there – the Calverts, Crowes, Carpenters, and Talbots. We’d like to share a glimpse through the keyhole, exploring a different room each week. This week we look at Christopher Crowe and the Italian connection

KIPLIN Hall was only every sold once, but even this sale kept it within family ties. Christopher Crowe purchased the estate from his wife’s eldest son Charles, 5th Lord Baltimore, who was in financial difficulty in 1722. Kiplin became the Crowe’s family home for the next 100 years.

The Northern Echo:

Kiplin Hall painted in 1780 by George Cuit the elder in his "hot air balloon view" style, showing the hall before the Gothic style extension was added

The Crowes were not aristocracy but belonged to the rising class of 18th Century country gentry. Christopher was born in Ashington in Northumberland in 1682. At the age of just 23, in 1705, he was appointed British Consul at Livorno (or Leghorn) on the west coast of Italy near Florence.

The Northern Echo:

Christopher Crowe in an Italian landscape by Francesco Trevisani

He was a successful merchant owning five ships with which he traded goods around Europe. He also acquired works of art for English nobles. He amassed quite a fortune and purchased his own substantial collection of paintings and art from the Contenant, some of which can be seen at Kiplin Hall today.

In 1715, he married Lady Charlotte Lee, the widow of George Calvert’s great-grandson, thus beginning his connection to Kiplin. They had four children, one of whom was also called Christopher.

Christopher Crowe the younger was a noted farmer and agricultural experimenter. In the collection at Kiplin there is a silver cup which was awarded to him in 1769, inscribed, “For the Best Six Acres of Turnips Completely Hoed. Kiplin 1769.” Clearly, his technique for hoeing turnips was second to none.

The Northern Echo:

The silver cup awarded to Christopher Crowe the younger inscribed ‘For the Best Six Acres of Turnips Completely Hoed. Kiplin 1769’

In 1770, Authur Young wrote his “Six Months Tour through the North of England” in which he describes the superior methods of cultivation and husbandry at Kiplin, particularly the growth of enormous cabbages to provide winter fodder for livestock.

The tradition of agricultural shows and prize giving is still very strong in Yorkshire. Farmers compete to show off their best crops and livestock. The winners benefitting from a reputation for quality and high standards, affording them the opportunity to gain higher prices when goods are sold. Historically (and today) farming can be isolating and solitary, but shows provided a chance for farming communities to come together and celebrate in the plentiful summer months. This prize cup is a testament to the long tradition of agricultural shows and the spirit of celebration in the area.

Kiplin Hall and Gardens is now open to visitors four days a week, Friday to Monday, with a special evening opening taking place on Saturday, August 1, in celebration of Yorkshire Day.

Proper Pizzas will be serving pizza picnics with Yorkshire themed toppings. The hall and gardens will be open until 8pm.

The Northern Echo:

During the lockdown and the temporary closure of the Tea Room visitors to Kiplin have been able to enjoy a classic Italian favourite from the wood fired oven of local firm Proper Pizzas

Today, Kiplin is still known for its homegrown produce. Fruits and vegetables from the walled garden at Kiplin are used in the tea room kitchen for baking, soups, and salads. Soft fruits are especially popular when made into delicious jams which are sold in the gift shop. Although temporarily closed to sit in dinners plans are underway to find new ways to operate the tea room at Kiplin. Visit www.kiplinhall.co.uk for more information.