North Yorkshire is famous for it’s majestic natural landscapes. The moorlands change colour in a spectacular way as the seasons pass, while the forests of Dalby and Cropton attract walkers and mountain bikers from afar. Many our guests come to our holiday cottage in Rosedale Abbey to see some of the most timeless man made features of North Yorkshire – the magnificent architecture of Yorkshire’s stately homes. Many of these date back hundreds of years and have become famous worldwide on television dramas and feature film productions. Guests to North Yorkshire are amazed at the sheer scale of these estates, built at a time when wealth and affluence was on a different scale.
For a family day out, these Yorkshire stately home estates make a great place for all the family. While it may appear that they are more for an older generation, in fact the modern estate custodians are well aware of the need to appeal to the whole family and have created some great attractions to keep everyone entertained.
Here are three great stately homes to visit within a thirty minute drive of Rosedale Abbey.
Without doubt, Castle Howard is the most famous stately home in North Yorkshire and one of the best known in TV and Film making. If you’re a fan of period drama, you’re certain to have seen Castle Howard on your screen at some point. Both versions of Brideshead Revisited were filmed here together with other productions as diverse as Death Comes to Pemberley and even Garfield, with Billy Connolly.
The estate is vast, at over 10,000 acres and incorporates the spectacular house, still lived in by the Howard family, plus the majestic grounds and spectacular water fountains.
The ornamental water features were created by the 3rd Earl in 1720, while subsequent custodians have added to the network with the huge Atlas fountain at the centre of the south garden being visible from most of the house. The remarkable thing about the fountain is that they are simply powered by water pressure and gravity from the nearby lake, with no artificial assistance to create the display.
The estate is a wonderful place to visit all year round, with staff constantly creating fresh events and ideas for visitors. The Castle Howard website is a great resource to plan your trip there.
Nunnington Hall is a beautiful manor house now owned by the National Trust. It was built in the 16th Century and was a private residence for much of it’s life, before being inherited by Margaret Fife in 1920. She and her husband, Colonel Fife, embarked on a major renovation programme.
Today, it is preserved by The National trust in the style of her renovations. Like many very old buildings of it’s type, as architectural styles changed, the buildings altered by successive residents. Many old Yorkshire manor homes fell into disrepair, but this one was luckily preserved across the centuries.
While not on the scale of Castle Howard and perhaps with not quite as much for youngsters to do, the Hall is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in the history of stately homes in Yorkshire. As ever, an excellent tea room is on hand!
Duncombe Park is another privately owned stately home. Situated just outside of the market town of Helmsley the Park is the home of the Duncombe family. As a working estate, the opening times of Duncombe Park are a little different to the other homes, so it easy to check the schedule on the website to be sure they are open.
The Park operates a series of events all year round, including a spectacular steam rally each summer, mountain bike trails and triathlons for the athletic amongst us, before finishing each year with a Christmas fair and the sale of Christmas Trees grown on the estate.
One of the most important attractions to Duncombe Park is the International Centre of Birds of Prey. Opened in 2013, the centre allows visitors to see the beautiful collection of birds flying free each day, all year round.
The centre’s expert guides give an informative commentary of the birds as they fly and hunt for food on a lure each day. The relationship between keepers and birds is quite exceptional, with the birds free to fly without tethers, the lure of a good food supply keeping them from departing. The centre is a superb park of the Park and well worth visiting to see the stunningly beautiful birds in action.
A great way to schedule a visit to Duncombe is to co-incide it with market day in Helmsley. The Park is just one mile from the town, so a combined visit to both places is a great way to enjoy North Yorkshire.