The house has a history of at least 350 years of occupation, possibly much more.
1600 | A small two storey hunting lodge existed at this time.
1780 | The ground floor of this lodge was used as some of the foundations and cellars for a large, Georgian, sandstone building. This was built by the wealthy Thomas Lister of Gisburn (later to become Lord Ribblesdale) who used scree from the cliffs behind the house to bury the ground floor of the old lodge, thus creating the sloped front lawn seen today.
1820 | The space at the back of the house was filled in with what is now the wash-up kitchen, dining room and corridor.
1807 | The estate cottages, including High Stables were built around this time.
1852-1857 | In 1852, Lister sold the estate to James Morrison, whose son Walter inherited it on his 21st Birthday in 1857. Walter was a popular philanthropist from London, who was MP for Skipton and used the house as his ‘Mountain Retreat’. He extended High Stables shortly after the purchase.James and Walter carried out two extensions around these dates. The first was an addition to the back kitchens in the west wing, and the stable block behind the main house (North Wing).
1862-1885 | Walter Morrison carried out the last major addition to the building: the east wing which is the present office, porch and dining room.
1873 | A fire severely damaged the property but, at a cost of £1624 15s 2d, Walter quickly repaired the damage. Indoors, the partition of the front hall, which is relatively recent, can be identified by the broken line of the ceiling mouldings and floor pattern.
Walter Morrison died in Devon in 1921 (leaving estates valued at £2 million) and is buried in Kirkby Malham Parish Church. In 1947 a relative of Walter, Mrs Hutton-Croft, donated the house to the National Trust who lease it to the Field Studies Council. When the Centre first opened in 1947 the North Wing buildings were still garages or stables and were gradually converted to labs and accommodation. High Stables was also converted to student accommodation and subsequently rebuilt in 2000.
Photographs on this page from Walter Morrison: A Millionaire at Malham Tarn by W R Mitchell. Castleberg Publications.