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Hotel project could bring real benefits
3:48pm Wednesday 18th April 2012 in Letters
IT is very good to read the new management of the Talbot Hotel would like to grow some of the vegetables they will use in their restaurant on site, and very good that James Martin and Premier Crux are keen to bring some localism to the endeavour.
It was proposed not many years ago that the historic gardens of York House and the Talbot Hotel might be restored to their 17th and 18th century patterns, with the addition, perhaps, of a sculpture park, providing a visitor attraction, as well as enhancing the heritage assets of York House and a revitalised Talbot Hotel.
Surviving 18th century plans of the gardens, as well as contemporary documentary sources, careful on-site archaeology and the involvement of internationally- recognised garden historians in the now defunct York House Project, would have made this relatively easy to achieve and would have put Malton on a number of destination maps nationally and regionally. Such a programme of informed garden restoration and interpretation was seen by those of us working at York House as a rare, if not a unique, opportunity to make the significant interior of York House itself available as an exhibition and meeting space united with its historic riverside gardens.
In the 17th and 18th century, the lower terrace of York House was a planned and geometrically laid out vegetable garden with perimeter walks and the beginning of a tree-lined walk that extended as far as Malton Spa, which was located within gardens beyond the current western boundary of the Talbot Hotel gardens. Alongside this vegetable garden, and between it and the line of the medieval town wall, there was an orchard with a dovecote. An orchard survives.
The Fitzwilliam Estate is currently building a road through the historic vegetable garden and orchard of York House to service the hotel, breaching a boundary that has remained intact since the foundation of New Malton, in 1138, and creating a schism of unpredictable consequence between York House and the River Derwent.
The service road is currently being made, though the plans themselves have yet to be formally approved by the planning committee of Ryedale District Council.
The same garden plans entirely absorb the garden of York House into those of the Talbot Hotel, redrawing its curtilage, while York House itself is said to have no known future use, though with Navigation Wharf nominated for reinvention as a spa complex as part of the Talbot Hotel, York House would seem unlikely now to have a destiny other than as a part of the same hotel. Suggestions, some months ago, by the site manager at the Talbot site that the intention was to make York House the hotel manager’s accommodation may hopefully be dismissed as groundless hearsay. With Malton Museum now closed, no home yet found for the Stone/Woodhams’ Collections, and the long-term future of the Dickens Counting House uncertain, there is little to visit in Malton but the town itself, its shops and restaurants, the lure of luxury at the Talbot Hotel, and soon, perhaps, 24- hour shopping at Tesco’s.
It is to be hoped these will be reason enough to visit the town, or, at least to make Malton an attractive base for the exploration of the rich historic and natural landscapes all about.
The reinvention of the Talbot Hotel is to be welcomed and it must be wished every success.
With many of Malton’s most important heritage assets being heaped within its basket, almost willy-nilly, and so many alternative, and occasionally strategic, visions for realising the potential of these significant buildings and sites having been either unexplored or dismissed, the future well-being and essential character of Malton is counting upon this success.
NIGEL COPSEY, Thornton-le-Dale