With it’s beautiful national parks, stunning coastline and plethora of historic market towns and quaint rural villages, North Yorkshire offers an abundance of wonderful places to visit. However, did you know that North Yorkshire is home to a numerous castles, country houses and grand stately homes which are either open to the public? Each of them boasts a fascinating past and offer a grand insight into the lives of the more affluent former residents of this magnificent part of our county. Wander through acres of sculpted gardens, marvel at opulent ceilings and centuries old furnishings and discover more about how former members of high society in Yorkshire, lived, holidayed and entertained.
Sutton-on-the-Forest, York, North Yorkshire YO61 1DP
Approximately 10 miles from York, on the edge of Sutton-on-the-Forest, you’ll find this 18th-century Georgian country house. Built by Thomas Atkinson for Phillip Harland, Sutton Park is now home of Sir Reginald, the 8th Baronet Sheffield and his wife, Lady Sheffield. Registered with Screen Yorkshire, this grand house is often used by television producers and film makers. You may recognise it from the recently aired BBC Drama, “Gentleman Jack”.
This Grade I listed building features stunnng Rococo plasterwork by Cortese and is home to some beautiful collections of art, porcelains and other treasures. When the Sheffield family bought the property in 1963, they brought with them their own collection of art and many of these pieces came from Buckingham House – known today as Buckingham Palace!
Sutton Park is open to visitors on specific days during the year so it’s best to check their website before making plans. Once there, you can explore the elegant home, enjoy a casual walk through the gardens and enjoy a decadent treat in their lovely little tea room. Sutton Park is also available for private hire and is an absolutely breathtaking venue for weddings.
Kiplin Hall, Near Scorton, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 6AT
A Grade I listed building with a history spanning more than 400 years, this Jacobean historic house at Kiplin, offers a wonderful day out. Built from 1619 for George Calvert, the founder of Maryland USA, it boasts beautiful walled gardens and scenic walks in the surrounding woodland.
Join one of the guided tours and you will learn all about the founding of Maryland as well as the history of the four families who have owned Kiplin Hall. During your tour of the hall you will travel through history, marvelling at various treasures and furnishings from the Victorian age through to the time of WWII. It’s a fascinating place with lots of interesting tales to tell so well worth a visit.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a place the grown-ups will enjoy. Kiplin have recently added a fun zip-wire to their natural play area and the kids can enjoy trails around the gardens and have fun in the dedicated Education and Family room too.
Castle Howard, York, YO60 7DA
Castle Howard near York is one of the finest and most visited stately homes in North Yorkshire, if not England! Situated just 15 miles north of the city, it has been home to the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for over 300 years.
This magnificent 18th century house is set in 1,000 acres of beautiful parkland and has been used in film and television many, many times since the 1960s. Join a guided tour for a more informative experience or explore the house and gardens at your leisure to marvel at the unique architecture and extensive collections of remarkable treasures.
There’s an illustrated trail designed for kids which provides a fun way for them to learn about the history of the house. They host numerous events, musical performances and exhibitions throughout the year and they’re always hugely popular. However, the transformation which takes place at Castle Howard over Christmas is truly magical. Keep your eye out for their upcoming Christmas events because if you haven’t been to Castle Howard yet, it’s a wonderful time to do so.
Newby Hall, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 5AE
You’ll find Newby Hall beside the River Ure at Skelton-on-Ure near Ripon. This immense 18th-century country house is by far one of the best stately homes in North Yorkshire for a family day out. Rumour has it that Downton Abbey may have been based on Newby Hall, due to the endless similarities between the history of the house and the plot of the series.
The Grade I listed building is one of Britain’s finest and most renowned Adam Houses. Now home to Mr & Mrs Richard Compton, it was built in the 1690’s by Sir Christopher Wren and later adated by John Carr and Robert Adam.
The inside of Newby Hall is one of the most exceptional examples of 18th century interior decoration. With its ornate ceilings, rich tapestries, glittering ornamental pieces and perfectly preserved Chippendale furniture, it really does provide a mesmerising insight into Victorian high society.
If that isn’t enough to tempt you, Newby Hall has plenty to do for children. There’s a lovely Dollshouse Museum, a miniature railway, an adventure playground and an adorable collection of teddy bears in a new purpose built building. You could easily spend a whole day here and not get bored once!
Nunnington, North Yorkshire YO62 5UY
National Trust’s Nunnington Hall is a picturesque Yorkshire manor house on the banks of the River Wye. Although recorded as a dwelling from 1219, the house you see today was built around around a Tudor Great Hall which you will find in the heart of the building.
It’s undergone many changes over the past 450 years to suit different residents and changing eras. The property is in a wonderful location and boasts a pretty walled garden with roaming peacocks, a natural play area with garden games and a dog friendly tea garden.
In addition to the fascinating period rooms inside Nunnington Hall, you will also find one of the finest collections of miniature rooms in existence. Thought to be built to entertain a young lady, The Baby Room is a small version of an 18th century residence and it’s filled with the most intricately detailed of treasures, like a tiny violin and the full works of Shakespeare in miniature form!
Beningbrough, York YO30 1DD
Another wonderful National Trust site in North Yorkshire is Beningbrough Hall, which is a large Georgian mansion overlooking the River Ouse. Built in the 18th century by a wealthy teenager, this Italian-style baroque house has changed hands many times. Explore the house and follow the story from it’s early days right through to its occupation by the RAF during WWII.
As a result of a partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, Beningbrough Hall now houses a popular art gallery in its main hall. This year, they are exhibiting a wonderful collection of loaned artwork and sculptures, all celebrating Yorkshire achievement, grit and controversy.
For those visiting with children, there’s a 7-metre pyramid tower with climbing wall as well as swings, slides, a wendy house and other great play equipment. Pack a picnic, peruse the house and then let the kids play whilst you sit back and enjoy your beautiful surroundings.
Skyreholme, Nr Appletreewick, North Yorkshire BD23 6DE
Located near the pretty village of Appletreewick in Wharfedale, Parcevall Hall is a Grade II listed manor house with landscaped gardens. A project to rebuild a derelict 16th / 17th century Parcevall Hall was taken on in 1929 by Sir William Milner, 8th Baronet of Nun Appleton. Parcevall Hall remained his home for thirty years and in this time he developed the unique gardens which were deisgned to provide year round interest.
The hall itself is not open to the public as it is it used by the Diocese of West Yorkshire and The Dales, however, the impressive structured gardens are, and they are well worth visiting. From various points in the grounds, you will be able to get a good look at the architectural featiures of Parcevall Hall.
Budding horticulturists will be delighted by the extensive range of specialist plants that flourish in Parcevall Gardens throughout the year. It really is the most beautiful and tranquil of places and needs to be visited to understand just how wonderful it is.
Church Ln, Sewerby, Bridlington YO15 1EA
Just 2 miles from the seaside town of Bridlington and set in 50-acres of landscaped gardens, is the Grade I listed, Sewerby Hall. Built during 1714 and 1720 by the Greame family, further extensions were added during the 19th century to include a portico,stable block, gatehouse and Orangery.
Since being fully refurbished in 2014, the house now looks precisley like it would have done in 1910. Transformed using furnitiure from the Victoria and Albert Museum, it is a genuine example of a fine Edwardian home.
During your visit you will learn about the life of the sevants at Sewerby Hall via an interactive display. Dress up in full Edwardian attire and explore the kitchen with its working coal-fired range and visit the nursery where children can play with a collection of Edwardian toys. The house itself is marvellous and offers a real insight into life during the Edwardian era. However, this isn’t the only reason to visit Sewerby Hall – they also have a zoo! Once you’ve taken a tour of the house and gardens, enjoy close encounters with penguins, pygmy goats, llamas, monkeys and more.
Scampston, Malton YO17 8NG
Home to Christopher and Miranda Legard, Scampston Hall is one of the finest regency country houses in North Yorkshire. First built around 1700, it was remodelled in 1795-1800 by Thomas Leverton. The house has since been lovingly restored by the Legards and, as it is their family home, is completely free of ropes and barriers. The family open their doors for day visitors during the summer months for guided tours with Christopher’s father.
Like other stately homes in North Yorkshire, Scampston Hall is bursting with fine treasures and magnificent pieces of art. The difference here, is that the visitors get to see everything close up and can have any questions answered directly by a member of the Scampston Hall family.
Once you have finished this most enjoyable and informative of stately home tours, you are free to explore their popular walled gardens and enjoy homemade treats in the overlooking garden cafe.