A guide to great houses, castles and gardens in Yorkshire
09 March 2022
Yorkshire is home to a collection of beautiful castles, houses and gardens that are perfect for a day out.
There are plenty of stately homes in Yorkshire that holidaymakers residing in Whitby hotels can visit and here we guide you through the best ones.
Barley Hall is a stunning medieval townhouse, once home to the Priors of Nostell and the Mayor of York. With atmospheric high ceilings, beautiful exposed timber frames and possibly the only horn window in England, the house has been dressed as if it was 1483.
The townhouse currently has a new exhibition on display called Power and Glory: York in the time of Henry VIII where visitors can explore the dramatic changes in the role of the church, the guilds and the civic authorities in York at the time of Henry VIII.
Now one of the country’s best preserved medieval castles, Bolton was originally built by Sir Richard Le Scrope to rival the finest and most luxurious homes in the land.
Completed in 1399, its scars bear testament to over 600 years of fascinating history including the Pilgrimage of Grace, Mary Queen of Scot’s imprisonment and a Civil War siege.
Bolton Castle is preserved in outstanding condition with many interesting rooms and features to for visitors to discover including the Old Kitchens, Dungeon, Solar, Nursery, Armoury, Great Chamber and Mary Queen of Scots’ bedroom.
You will find a raft of sights, sounds and smells which bring the castle to life and make for a truly memorable visit. There is something for everyone to enjoy as visitors will discover what life was really like during the castle’s heyday through Bolton Castle’s authentic room displays, wonderful falconry experience, archery demonstrations, children’s trails and costumes and hands-on medieval games and activities.
The castle’s gardens have been restored along medieval lines and include a well-stocked herb garden, rose garden, walled vineyard, bowling green and maze as well as the birds of prey on their weathering ground and a bee observation hive.
Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens
This Italian Palace is nestled between York, Harrogate and Leeds and if you are an art enthusiast then you will be delighted to see the array of portraits at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens.
This stunning palace is perfect for visitors of all ages as it boasts sweeping lawns and beautiful gardens for the grown-ups to walk around, whilst also being home to a large play area for the kids to let loose.
Visitors can also can also eat at the highly-acclaimed restaurant, shop at the plant centre and take advantage of the array of great walks through the beautiful gardens and lawns.
Burton Agnes Hall
Robert Smithson architecture and a diverse art collection including exquisite Elizabethan carvings and the finest contemporary works, inspired Simon Jenkins, author of ‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’, to describe Burton Agnes Hall as ‘the perfect English house’ and one of England’s twenty finest houses.
Outside the Elizabethan walled garden contains a magnificent floral display offering a feast for the senses and in the courtyard visitors will find unique, handcrafted gifts and souvenirs in the shops. The café offers home-made meals using the garden’s fruit and vegetables and local ingredients.
If you are visiting Burton Agnes Hall with the family then you should have a go at the giant games that are dotted around and head to the woodland sculpture walk.
Breezy Knees Gardens
Breezy Knees Gardens is located just outside of York. The 15-acre site is home to award-winning gardens that visitors can explore.
Sparkling fountains and myriads of blossom are just some of the features that visitors can expect to see when coming to the gardens, which are home to over 6,000 different varieties of plants.
If you are a keen gardener then you have to visit the Breezy Knees Gardens nursery as many people regard it to have the best selection of perennials in the North of England. In total, there are 1,500 different types of plants, including a host of rare ones.
Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
Explore original furnishings from the 1860s and enjoy a red-carpet welcome into fashionable Victorian society at Brodsworth Hall and Gardens.
This English Heritage-owned country house still reflects its original opulence as everything is left exactly as it was when it was still a family home.
The gardens have been restored to their original splendour as ‘a collection of grand gardens in miniature.’ Visitors can expect to discover a fine selection of period bedding plants in the flower garden display and enjoy romantic views from the restored summerhouse.
Alternatively, guests can stroll through the statue walks, the fern dell grotto or the beautiful wild rose dell.
Burnby Hall Gardens
Based in the town of Pocklington on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, Burnby Hall Gardens and Museum were originally the estate of adventurer and collector Major Percy Stewart.
Visitors to this stately home will be wowed by the gardens, which are comprised of Upper and Lower lakes that are set in nine acres of woodland and garden, and are home to a National Collection of over a hundred varieties of Hardy Water Lillies.
There are walkways around both lakes, an ornamental bridge, a Victorian Garden, an Aviary, a Rockery and a Stumpery, that visitors can discover.
The fact that gardens are five times winners of the Yorkshire in Bloom Gold Award for Country Houses, Estates, Parks and Gardens should also be enough of a reason to visit this stunning attraction.
There is also a Stewart Museum that houses a collection of artefacts that were collected by Major Stewart on eight world tours between 1906 and 1926.
East Riddlesden Hall
Imagine stepping 400 years back in time into the home of a 17th-century cloth merchant. See the changes that he made and discover why these were sadly never completed.
This is what you get when visiting East Riddlesden Hall and those that take a tour around the house will be told a number of stories by room guide volunteers.
The house is home to a wonderful array of seventeenth century needlework and original exquisite plasterwork ceilings created by local craftsmen. The intimate gardens offer a peaceful space for people to relax and unwind in.
The natural play areas offer children the chance to let off some steam as well as get creative in the mud pie kitchen. The Hobbit house is another popular attraction with the kids and the bird hide is a spot to watch the local wildlife.
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal
This World Heritage site gives visitors the chance to wander through breath-taking landscapes to discover majestic abbey ruins and elegant water gardens.
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, a National Trust property near Ripon in North Yorkshire, is home to a wealth of historic monuments including Cistercian abbey ruins, a Georgian water garden, a medieval deer park, an Elizabethan hall and a Victorian church.
The attraction is a must-visit for holidaymakers staying at hotels in Robin Hoods Bay and those that decide to visit this magnificent abbey will not be left disappointed as UNESCO consider the Studley Royal Water Garden a feat of ‘human creative genius’.
The atmospheric ruins that remain are a window into a way of life which shaped the medieval world.
The site is open all year, but this year something extraordinary is happening in the follies of the water garden. In these whimsical buildings created by the garden’s designers to surprise their guests, you’ll find installations inspired by the history of the gardens and the opulence of the eighteenth century.
Harewood House and Harewood Estate
Harewood House and Harewood Estate is yet another stately home that if you get the chance you should try and visit.
Harewood is the family seat of the Earl and Countess of Harewood and is in the hands of the Lascelles Family.
The Grade-1 listed castle is a popular attraction with around 200,000 people believed to visit it every year.
The Harewood Estate is around 100 acres and includes Himalayan and Walled Gardens and a 32-acre lake.
Harewood House also boasts one of the best private art collections in the world as it includes works from El Greco, Joshua Reynolds, JMW Turner and Epstein.
One of England’s most relaxing and innovative gardens at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, Harlow Carr is a showcase of horticultural excellence.
People that visit the Harlow Carr gardens will be able to pick up growing techniques in the Kitchen Garden or can saunter along the Streamside garden, the largest of its kind in the country.
Children can have fun on the Log Ness Monster and in the Woodland Tree House. Enjoy the number of year round events that take place such as an outdoor theatre, guided walks, discovery trails and plant fairs.
Newby Hall, the home of Richard and Lucinda Compton, is one of England’s rare Wren-designed houses and an exceptional example of 18th century Adam interior decoration with fine Chippendale furniture.
The 25 acres of award-winning gardens are full of rare and beautiful plants and include Newby’s famous double herbaceous border, one of the longest in Europe, which has recently been completely replanted.
Leading off from this beautiful border are formal compartmented gardens, such as Sylvia’s Garden, a specialist Rose Garden, Water Garden and an Autumn Garden. The National Collection of CORNUS (dogwoods) is also held at Newby.
If that’s not enough, Newby Hall also has 15 acres of tranquil woodland and an historic orchard, which, until September, is hosting a Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition. Newby Hall is also now home to one of the finest collections of Dollshouses with over 70 exhibits.
The attraction also offers groups meals, disabled access to private tours, free coach parking, manual and electric scooters available to book, and free entry for group leaders and drivers.
Image Credit: Barley Hall, Bolton Castle, National Trust Images / Chris Lacey, Burton Agnes Hall, Breezy Knees Gardens, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, Burnby Hall Gardens, East Riddlesden Hall, Andrew Butler (Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal), Simon Warner and Harewood House Trust, Robert Kay and Harewood House Trust, Royal Horticultural Society, Newby Hall.