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Historic homes, churches, gardens

Historic homes, churches, gardens

Saturday, 02 April 2016

Kirklinton Hall

You only have to flick through Gavin Stamp’s excellent book Lost Victorian Britain to see how cavalier we’ve been with our built heritage. And that’s just the 19th century. Thousands of 17th and 18th century buildings have gone the same way, so thank goodness for people like Christopher and Ilona Boyle. Without them Kirklinton Hall near Carlisle might just be a pile of stones.

As it is there’s no roof, no windows and few interior walls and floors. But within three years Christopher, chairman of the Georgian Group, hopes to have the 1680s building wind and water proof. ‘Then I can relax and concentrate on its historic interiors,’ he says.

Yesterday Kirklinton opened for the new season and except for Saturdays - when it’s closed for events - the ruins and 14 acres of grounds are open every day until late September. We had coffee and cakes in the old carriage house (with woodburning stove, second hand books for sale and a leaf hunt for children) and then wandered through the walled garden with its nuttery, raspberry canes, quince grove and ancient peach trees.

The nice thing about Kirklinton is its peace and quiet, its chequered history, and the sense that something special is about to take place. Once real restoration starts we - the visitors - will be able to watch the stonemasons, carpenters and other craftsmen at work. As the project may last for 15/20 years there will be plenty of opportunities to do so.

Deadline for Kirklinton Hall’s fairy tale writing competition is April 30. Check website for details. Also see Mallsgate Hall for Christopher’s organic beef and lamb boxes.

Sadly I don’t get to shop in London’s Fortnum and Mason that often but when I do I get a certain kick out of seeing Cumbrian food on the shelves of this famous Piccadilly store. Two things in the past few years have tickled me even more. One was seeing the work here of Cumbrian ceramicist Paul Scott in An Exhibition of British Craft in 2010; the other was spotting a wonderful show of marmalades, made by Cumbrian producer Wild and Fruitful. The prominent display was down to its double gold success at the World's Original Marmalade Awards and Festival which had been held only a few days before at Dalemain historic home near Ullswater in the Lake District. And now is the time of the year when entries are again being sought, the 14 categories this year including ones for hairdressers and ‘world marmalade’. Valentine’s Day is the deadline for entries. Whether or not you like marmalade, you can see how this event captures the imagination. Newspapers love it - expect to read plenty of column inches before the big weekend in March (19 and 20), Dalemain and Ullswater get a boost in visitor numbers at a quieter time of the year and double gold award winners see their marmalade sold at Fortnum’s (a major sponsor) for the whole of the following year. Charity benefits as well, with more than £200,000 going to hospice work in Cumbria and much further afield over the last 12 years. So let’s hear it for the orange, lemon and lime, for marmalade, Dalemain and marmalade makers. It wouldn’t be March without them.

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