In celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, we wanted to share with you some details about Kiplin Hall during the war years.
Those who have visited Kiplin Hall before will know that two rooms in the house are dedicated to displaying this chapter of our history. They sit in stark contrast to the glamour and grandeur of the rest of the house, which shows country living at its finest.
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 Army. 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 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. 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.
Bomb dumps in the Woods at Kiplin Hall
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.
Although the 75th VE Day might not be all we’d planned for it is still an occasion to remember how we can pull together in times of hardship, to survive, and thrive once again.
If you would like to support Kiplin Hall and Gardens by purchasing advanced tickets, aiding our cash flow at this time, you can do so online here. Advanced tickets and Tea Room Vouchers include a 10% discount, helping your money to go further. Thank you for your support. We look forward to welcoming you back to Kiplin when it is safe to do so.
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