Great Britain

Kiplin marketing boss loves nothing finer than seeing visitor numbers go up

At Kiplin Hall and Gardens visitors will encounter 400 years’ worth of stories about international adventure lived out by members of the four families that owned Kiplin Hall over four centuries. This week we meet another of the ‘people behind the place’, marketing officer, Samantha Jennings

AS the marketing officer for Kiplin, Samantha works part time, two days per week, and is fairly new to the hall and gardens, having worked there for just over a year.

Samantha’s role is to promote Kiplin Hall and Gardens to visitors. Among her duties she writes press releases, organises adverts in newspapers, magazines and radio. Creates content for social media and the blog. She works with the team to create the annual leaflet and keeps the website up to date.

The Northern Echo:

Samantha Jennings, Marketing Officer, with her husband David and children Thomas and Emily

During the Covid outbreak Samantha has also made an awful lot of new signage for the site too. Pre-Covid she also attended events to promote Kiplin, including some work in schools.

Samantha is mum of two school-aged children living in Northallerton. She grew up in Consett, and studied Archaeology at Newcastle University. Before coming to Kiplin she had a career working in museums in the North of England, including Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, The Bowes Museums, and Gayle Mill Trust near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales.

Whilst her children were pre-schoolers she joined the WI and set up a small craft market business from home to keep her mind active and work skills sharp.

The Northern Echo:

Scrap books at Kiplin tell of a home for entertaining, parties, visitors and fun

We asked Samantha what she enjoys the most about working for Kiplin Hall and Gardens: “My favourite thing about my job is seeing success. Seeing a press release gain great coverage, or getting a great review online. Or seeing visitor figures go up. You know you are part of a successful team when you can see measurable marks of success like that.

"Those things give me great job satisfaction. I also love being able to get close to objects, or behind the scenes access to places the public don’t normally see, that’s always a thrill.”

The Northern Echo:

Copies of The Studio magazine tell of the talents of the de Grey sisters as artists and their reputation in the art world

Marketing can be a never-ending task and this is something that Samantha knows all too well. “My least favourite task is updating our opening times and prices each year. It needs to be done in a lot of places online, various websites and directories, Google, Facebook, our own website, it’s a long list. It is an exacting task that needs to be done correctly and is quite time consuming. During Covid our phased reopening has meant that I’ve had to make updates to the listings almost monthly. But it is a delight to report we are adding days to our rota as we recover from lockdown, so I don’t really mind.”

The Northern Echo:

The hopeful scene of the animals disembarking the ark depicted on an inlaid table in the library at Kiplin Hall

We asked Samantha to talk about her favourite object in the museum at Kiplin. Like many of the volunteers and visitors Samantha’s affection for Kiplin comes from a feeling of shared experience and memory, which is so easy to make in the intimate setting.

“I really love an inlayed side table in the library. I like wooden objects. When I was a little girl my father worked in a timber merchant, when he came home from work and cuddled us I’d end up with a little puff of saw dust in my face as my chin rested on the shoulder of his padded body warmer.

The Northern Echo:

A wedding photograph of Beatrice de Grey to Rear-Admiral Carpenter, showing all four de Grey sisters, Emily, Odeyne, Beatrice, Mabe

“My brother has grown up to be a heritage joiner and works at Beamish Museum now. I used to work at Gayle Mill in Hawes, a restored Victorian saw mill, so I know a little about the craftsmanship involved in making such an item. And I am in awe of the hands that made this table.

“During lockdown I was writing about that table for an article. Our records say that the scene on the table shows the animals disembarking Noah’s Ark, from the Bible story. It’s quite unusual to have this part of the story depicted, many choose to show the flood, and the animals rushing on board to be saved.

“Although I’m not religious I was touched by this hopeful image during the dark days of lockdown.

“Being a Women’s Institute member, I am interested in women’s history and feminism. This side table was actually made by a woman. Admiral Carpenter’s second wife, Beatrice de Grey. Beatrice and her three sisters were heavily involved within the Arts & Crafts Movement and were mentioned frequently in the Studio Magazine, copies of which are also on display at Kiplin. What interesting and skilled women they must have been. They also shared their talent, teaching their skills to others.”

The Northern Echo:

Talented Beatrice painted this portrait, a copy of a painting by Rubens. The original is in the National Gallery, London  

If given the gift of time travel Samantha knows just who she’d like to chat to over a cuppa from Kiplin’s past. “I’d go back to around 1899 and get to know the de Grey sisters, who were such talented and creative women. At this time Kiplin was a country house at its peak, with the Carpenter family enjoying a life of privilege and prosperity. I was 14 years old in 1999 and remember my family having a little party at our home with the neighbours, we were allowed to stay up late to see the arrival of the year 2000, I wonder if the Carpenters had the same level of excitement to welcome 1900? I bet they had a great party.”

Visitors can explore Kiplin Hall and Gardens this autumn until November 1 when is closed for the winter. Visit www.kiplinhall.co.uk for up to date opening times and information on Covid procedures for visitors.

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