Welcome back to an A to Z of discovery at Kiplin Hall and Gardens as we explore U is for… unicorn!
As a museum Kiplin Hall deals in facts, research, and occasional opinion and hearsay. We can assume there is little room for mythical beasts in the realms of historical accuracy. But a little room is all that’s needed to sprinkle in some magic, especially at this time of year. In fact, elements of myth and legend are important threads in oral histories here and around the world.
Like the beast of legend, the unicorn at Kiplin Hall is hard to find. But once spotted it is an enchanting detail, hidden but standing proud.
On the ground floor at Kiplin visitors arrive in an elaborately panelled Jacobean style room, featuring a large fire place and ornately framed portraits. Today this room is used at the Tea Room. At the back of the fire place is a cast iron fire back dated to 1618. Kiplin Hall is believed to have been built at around 1625. The design on the fire back depicts the Royal Coat of Arms dating to the reign of James I.
James I of England was actually James VI of Scotland as well, making him King of the United Kingdom. The unicorn is the symbol of Scotland. Opposite the unicorn is a lion, the symbol of England. Bringing both animals onto one coat of arms was symbolic of the new unified rule. Traditionally the lion and unicorn are thought of as enemies, fighting to be king of beasts. In the coat of arms the unicorn has a crown around its neck attached to a chain. It is thought that they are depicted like this to show the power of Scottish kings, having the strength to tame the untameable.
Although open fires are no longer lit in the fire place one can imagine the flickering light dancing across the raised surface of the design, giving the beasts a sense of movement. Today this room is enjoyed by visitors as the Tea Room, serving seasonal produce from the walled garden in soups and bakes. The rest of the house is open as a museum containing the art, furniture and possessions of the four families who have lived there over 400 years. During October half-term mythical goings on continue in Crowes Wood Halloween Trail. Visitors are invited to find their funny bone as skeletons cause mischief and mayhem in the gardens. Kiplin is open 6 days a week, closed on Thursdays until 31t October when it will close to be dressed for Christmas. Welcoming festive visits 26th November – 12th December.