Malham Tarn House: Parish council express 'concern' over National Trust's plans for future of 18th-century hunting lodge in the Yorkshire Dales

A Yorkshire Dales parish council has expressed concerns for the future of an 18th-century hunting lodge after its owners, the National Trust, applied to convert part of the Grade-II listed building into offices.

Malham Tarn House and the surrounding estate were gifted to the National Trust in 1946 by the great-niece of the philanthropist and MP Sir Walter Morrison, who had lived there until his death in 1921.

The Trust acquired the hunting box, the home farm, the tarn itself – Yorkshire’s second-largest lake – and woodland totalling 800 acres.

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The charity leased the house to the Field Studies Council from 1947, and the North Wing, the subject of the current planning application and a former stable block, was turned into accommodation.

Malham Tarn HouseMalham Tarn House
Malham Tarn House

The Council ended their lease in October 2022, claiming the study centre was no longer financially viable and it closed.

The National Trust has since been given consent by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to convert the North Wing into offices, and planning officers’ reports state that the charity is currently ‘working out’ future plans for the estate and vacant building.

The reason for the application was given as space constraints at the Trust’s current offices at Waterhouses. No external alterations would be required, and the ‘short-term’ development would see three offices created on the ground floor and four upstairs. However, the documents state that the National Trust will consider the change as a permanent use for the site.

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KIrkby Malhamdale Parish Council responded to the application and stated: “We are concerned about long term plans for Malham Tarn House as it isimportant to the local community and the Parish Council would like to know what the Trust’s strategic plans for the site are.”

Planners deemed that their views were not relevant to the current development, but will be taken into account if any future schemes are submitted and their comments were passed to the National Trust.

Officers recommended the application for approval based on the need to prevent Malham Tarn House from falling into disuse.

It was originally built for hunting by Lord Ribblesdale – Sir Thomas Lister – who sold the estate in 1852 to Sir Walter’s father, James Morrison, a wealthy merchant. His nephew, Major James Archibald Morrison, inherited in the 1920s and further sold the land and house, as well as two pubs, which were purchased by a Haworth-based brewery.

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Malham Tarn House passed into the hands of Huddersfield wool baron Mr E Fisher. However, in 1928 he died at the lodge after a day’s shooting and an auction was again held, allowing Mrs Hutton-Croft and her husband to purchase her great-uncle’s former residence while retaining the grouse shoot.

The house has an illustrious history, as Morrison entertained guests there including the authors of classic children’s novels Tom Brown’s Schooldays and The Water Babies, the first chapter of the latter being written at Malham by Charles Kingsley.