Kiplin Hall is a seventeenth century historic house in North Yorkshire. The grandiose house sits in a wider estate including an old walled garden, grazing, tree avenues, lake and woodland.
In 2009, Kiplin received a grant from HLF to bring the woodland (part of the old pleasure grounds) to life again and open up more access, both physically and intellectually, to visitors.
Rather than bring in a bunch of consultants to do the job for them, Kiplin took a much more sensible and sustainable approach. This involved training and mentoring their staff and volunteers to create the interpretation and learning resources they needed themsleves. Gordon, Dawn and Marcia (staff at the property) participated fully in the training and sessions.
We provided an initial 2-day training package called 'Woodland Explorers' introducing the principles of outdoor learning, taking a look at potential audiences, looked at examples from other sites round the country and possible techniques to use.
Together, we then brainstormed and prioritised ideas for interpretation. The group split off into groups and went away to start drafting their interpretation; in this case:
- A tree trail for adults
- An innovative poetree trail for families
- Resources for schools
- Bench boards (interpretation slotted under benches - a less intrusive alternative to interpretation panels)
The quality of what was produced was fantastic.
The volunteers' confidence grew by the day and found skills they had been hiding under a bushel!
Visitors to Kiplin can now enjoy the volunteer-created interpretation and see the woods in a new light for the first time.
The volunteer team didn't just tackle the interpretation, they were out in the woods doing all manner of tasks including clearance work, path repairs, tree recording and even pond dredging. I think some of them liked the chainsaw training a little too much!
'Beneath the Canopy'; An exhibition to celebrate the work is running all of 2010 in the Hall itself so go and visit to find out more.
- Getting the most out of your local volunteer centre - a guide for museums
- Resources for managing volunteers from Volunteering England
- Volunteering impact assessment toolkit - book available to buy
- More on the benefits of volunteering for volunteers
- Garden Explorers training package - for anyone developing interpretation in gardens and parks