The history of the 17th-century occupiers of a historic North Yorkshire house is to be the subject of a new American documentary.

Over two days this week, the historic doors of Kiplin Hall in Richmond were closed to the public as cameras rolled on a documentary charting the internationally influential life of the house’s first owner – George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore.

As filming got underway, horse-drawn carriages and actors appearing in styles reflecting the fashions of the 1620s when Calvert was in residence at Kiplin could be seen preparing for shots, filming, and even taking a tea break.

The Northern Echo: 2. Extras acting as ‘domestic staff’ dressed in costume enjoy a short tea break outside of the

The documentary is set to explore the fascinating life and American ventures of George Calvert, who, born in Yorkshire to a small gentry family, went on to found the first Maryland colony in America. Subsequently, this expanded into the state of Maryland we know today.

As yet, the documentary’s release date is unknown.

Born in Kiplin some time around 1580, Calvert was brought up in a Roman Catholic family at a time when Catholics often faced persecution in England.

In 1592, Calvert’s tutor was accused of encouraging his Catholic faith, having used a ‘popish primer [book]’ in lessons. Under the force of the law, both George and his father conformed to Protestant practices. On entering Oxford University in 1594, Calvert signed a subscription book, confirming his acceptance of Protestantism - however, this wasn’t to last.

Graduating in 1597, Calvert began a successful career in law before being head-hunted by Robert Cecil, Secretary of State, and serving as one of his secretaries from 1603 onwards.

In 1604, Calvert married Anne Mynne of Hertfordshire, who became mother to their 12 children. Cecil was made godfather to their eldest son, who was named in honour of him.

In October 1609, he was elected as a member of parliament for Bossiney, Cornwall, before gaining his first royal appointment as Clerk of the Crown in Connaught and County Clare in Ireland.

This prosperity enabled Calvert to invest more than £1,600 in the Virginia Company of London and the East India Company, both of which were huge colonising forces in the 17th-century.

By 1619, Calvert was a firm favourite of James I, and was appointed as Secretary of State. In addition, he was also made a member of the King’s Privy Council with a yearly pension of £1000.

In 1620, Calvert acquired land in Newfoundland, now in Canada, and attempted to establish a colony there. With disease and cold climate, the colony into which he had invested £20,000 was soon abandoned - but it was far from his only colonial advance on America.

The Northern Echo: A horse drawn carriage typical of the style in the 1620s was filmed at Kiplin Hall this weekA horse drawn carriage typical of the style in the 1620s was filmed at Kiplin Hall this week (Image: KIPLIN HALL)

In 1624 Calvert made the controversial decision to convert back to Roman Catholicism. Although this caused his political influence to dwindle, Calvert remained on good terms with the King, who made him Baron Baltimore in Ireland.

Calvert made his second attempt at establishing colonial rule in Virginia in 1629, but was turned away by those already settled there. They objected to his refusal to swear an oath to the new King Charles I on the grounds of his conflicting Catholic faith.

Finally, Calvert applied for a grant of land along the Chesapeake Bay on the east American coast. His plans for the Maryland colony were heavily modelled on the existing power structures of the Palatinate in County Durham. Calvert’s charter for Maryland reads as an almost exact copy for Durham’s, altering only the titles of authority figures and locations.

But it was only shortly after his death in London in 1632 that Calvert’s request was granted, with the new colony of Maryland left to the care of his son, Cecil.

The Calvert family’s early government of Maryland took its principles from George’s vision for the colony as a safe place for Catholics and subsequently a place of religious toleration. In 1649, the Maryland Toleration Act was passed, granting religious freedom to Christian followers, one of the first acts of its kind.

Maryland, however, was not a safe haven for all. During the 17th-century colonisers became embroiled in the slave trade, using slave labour on their tobacco plantations.

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Several of George Calvert’s descendants were also high-profile slave owners for more than a hundred years until the abolition of slavery in the 19th-century forced this practice to end.

Today, George Calvert’s noble title, Baltimore, is perhaps most recognisable as the name of Maryland’s biggest city, but it all started in the small Yorkshire village of Kiplin.

Kiplin Hall and Gardens in Richmond, North Yorkshire are open to visitors six days a week (excludes Thursdays), 10am to 5pm.