Plato's has been keeping the spirits of Kirkby Lonsdale high for nearly 150 years.
The first wine business was started here in 1860 by Isaac Hindson. Plato Harrison took over in 1900 and began to bottle beer. As the father of eight children, he obviously had them in mind when he began a mineral water plant, which produced and bottled lemonade, cream soda, Vimto and other sweet soft drinks in the early 1900’s, each sealed with a marble stopper. This was on the site of The Pop Shop - so that's where it got its name.
After Plato's death, his son Percy took the business over and gradually grew it through some difficult times. Percy's son, George Henry, followed him and stayed for 40 years until 1987. George revitalised the business, thanks to his knowledge of European vineyards, and Plato Harrison’s became well regarded in Kirkby Lonsdale and beyond. Since then the building has continued as a wine merchants and then a bistro and deli before we began to restore it in May 2008.
We have taken inspiration from the building's heritage and wine will continue to be very important to us. We look forward to welcoming a new generation of wine lovers who now usually choose by grape. Plato's will once again have its own label wine as we bring the world's best vineyards to Kirkby Lonsdale. Restoring this old Georgian building has been a real labour of love and we hope you love it as much as we do.
We have four levels of luxury B&B accommodation named after some of our original customers
John Craston was Kirkby Lonsdale's Parish Clerk. Reputed to have been very sure of his own opinions he liked to play spiteful tricks on those he didn't get on with - like changing the hymns at the last minute so that the organist played the wrong tunes. He liked a tipple and would often turn up at choir practice after a few drinks, settle himself down in a pew and loudly criticise the singing.
Frank Pearson was a lawyer with a large practice in Kirkby. With his silver tongue and good sense of humour he was renowned for being able to free people in even the most serious trouble, so much so that other lawyers christened him the “Kirkby Devil”. He sometimes travelled a hundred miles on horseback to help people and if they couldn't pay, he worked for free. He married a childhood friend quite late in life and we hope he was joking in his diary entry for that day when he said "today I take leave of my senses, after a friendship of 37 years."
Kit Wilson was the squire of Rigmaden Park in Kirkby Lonsdale. His talents were apparently limitless - he could cure sick tigers and had a pet otter that he trained to follow him. A forward thinking chap, he had the first car in the district, his home was the second country house in the North to have electricity installed and we even have him to thank for our dairy heritage - he introduced Friesian cows to England. He loved to travel but when he was at home he was known to enjoy cooling off by jumping off Devil's Bridge.
John Ruskin is well known as a leading Victorian artist and poet but he was also a leading opinion former. A letter from him to The Times could make or break an artist's reputation. He opposed genteel society by supporting the Pre-Raphaelite movement and regularly published opinions on architecture, literature and social theory. Tolstoy and Proust were both great fans, as was Gandhi who often spoke of the influence that Ruskin had on his philosophy. Most importantly to us, he loved Kirkby Lonsdale and we are thrilled to be the closest hotel to Ruskin's view.