NT Beningbrough Hall and Gardens
Last year we bought a family membership to the National Trust and we used it once. Yip, once. Mostly this had to do with working weekends and throughout school holidays and we never got the chance to use it properly. Now that I'm working from home, getting out and about is so much easier and I'm determined to use my NT membership to the max. I've been through the guide book a hundred times, carefully putting an asterisk next to castles, abbeys, stately homes and nature reserves that I want to visit. Not just places in Yorkshire, but all over England and it's great that there is a reciprocal agreement with the Scottish NT too as I've spotted a few gems that I want to visit when I go home to see the folks. First on my list was a bit closer to home, Beningbrough Hall just outside York.
Beningbrough Hall is an Italian style Palace built in 1716 by John Bourchier after he was inspired by the great buildings of Europe. It's surrounded by eight acres of formal gardens and a walled kitchen garden which supplies the cafe with seasonal fruit and vegetables. The hall is also home to a gallery of portraits on permanent loan from the National Portrait Gallery. This year Beningbrough is celebrating it's 300th birthday and to mark the occasion they are holding lots of different events including willow workshops, art classes and for all the family to enjoy, a Time Travellers Trail which takes you through the hall and the gardens finding all about the history of the house and it's owners.
Away from the main path, the garden is quite muddy in places, so it's a good idea to pop your wellies on if you want to go off the beaten track. There is a woodland trail that takes you through the countryside and follows along the banks of the River Ouse. We didn't do this as we hadn't brought our wellies, but next time we'll definitely be heading that way for a longer walk. Lots of good views of the house from this path too, I believe.
One of the things I noticed walking around the grounds were that bicycles, trikes and scooters were to be found in several places. At first when we saw one, we thought that a kid had left it behind and then we realised they are to be borrowed - what a genius idea for the littles, a great way to encourage them through the estate and hopefully keep them occupied. There is a good adventure playground to be had too.
But it's always about the gardens for me, even in the winter months. There are always some treasures to be found - this time it was blossom on the trees, teeny-tiny purple irises in the walled garden, rows upon rows of bright yellow daffodils, huge oversized terracotta pots of the daintiest primroses nestled amongst the leaves from the tulip bulbs starting to nose their way out of the compost. And of course, a sea of snowdrops, under trees and bushes, a proper indication that spring is coming.
Also in the garden is the potting shed, a room filled with vintage flower pots, old watering cans, knocked about oil lamps and heritage tools. It's like a shed of dreams (for me anyway!) and I had such fun photographing in there.
We had lunch in the cafe which was good, typical National Trust fayre. It's always reasonably priced and they cater well for vegetarians and families, making it ideal for us to get something nourishing after a long walk. We had baked potatoes and salad but the soup sounded good - sweet potato and thyme. I didn't spot the sign for it until after I'd ordered the potatoes at the counter. Oh well, next time. There is a lovely outdoor eating area too which must be so nice on a warm, sunny day.
I can't wait to return and enjoy the garden in the Summer, to see how it has changed throughout the seasons. I'm going to find a bench and sit there for a while, taking in the sights and scents of a beautiful English country garden. x