What's the best thing to do on a sunny August weekend? Visit a National Trust property of course! Last year that is exactly what I did when I visited Nunnington Hall in North Yorkshire with my partner and parents. It was not a property I had ever visited before, but it is definitely one I would visit again.
Next to the River Rye, Nunnington Hall is a beautiful manor house that originated in the Tudor period being modified over the next 450 years by different inhabitants. As we weren't sure if there was a going to be rain shower that day, we decided to walk around the grounds first before going inside the house. The National Trust have sought to keep the garden as it was designed in the 17th century, whilst still being in the "spirit of the 20th century" when Mrs Fife made renovations to the gardens. A tour of the garden today includes visiting the Rose Garden, Terrace Walk and orchards which have apple and pear trees (fun fact: in the 19th century Ryedale was one of the biggest apple producers). On the lawn there were a few different outdoor games and sports, so we took advantage of the sun holding out and played a few fun rounds of badminton. All the gardens were gorgeous, and you could see how they were being lovingly maintained by the staff at Nunnington.
We then decided to go to the tearoom for lunch before exploring the house. As the sun was still shining we sat outside in their picnic area for our sandwiches and coffees (having to move about a little bit to avoid the wasps!). Now happily fed and watered we approached the house, passing a flamboyant peacock as we did so.
The first room you enter is the Stone Hall which is the "heart of the oldest part of the house". We were greeted by a volunteer steward who was really enthusiastic and engaging as he told us about the room. The room has had many functions over the years but the Fife family who took on the property in 1920 (and made major must needed renovations) used it largely as a social space. They kept their outdoor activity related items there, including fishing rods and guns, with the hall then being used to provide refreshments when they took part in the Sinnington Hunt. Colonel Fife was really into hunting so the room is full of game trophies on the walls including antelopes' and tigers. There are over 10 rooms so I won't go into detail about them all (as hopefully you'll be able to visit yourself and explore them!) but some highlights for me include:
The Dining Room which is exquisite, and features furniture from the 18th/19th Century.
The Great Staircase which includes a set of tapestries known as the Brussels Tapestries, which are thought to be from the 17th century when Lord Preston owned the property. The tapestries depict scenes from Greek mythology about the warrior Prince Achilles.
Lastly Lord Preston's Room, where you can see Lord Preston and his wife Lady Anne Howard's individual coat of arms. What makes this rather interesting though is that they're on the ceiling rather than on the wall, there's a mirror in the room to make this painting accessible without having to crane your neck.
I really enjoyed exploring Nunnington Hall and discovering its history, it was a wonderful visit from start to finish. All the staff were helpful and informative, the house and grounds were well kept, and the houses' history was well explained for visitors.
It turned out there was another National Trust property nearby, so if you have time my top tip is to sneak a visit into the nearby Rievaulx Terrace as well. It is a wonderful landscape garden featuring two temples and wonderful views of nearby Rievaulx Abbey.
Due to the UK lockdown Nunnington Hall is currently closed, however, in the future when life hopefully returns to normal here are all the nitty gritty details you need to plan your visit:
Location: Nunnington, near York, North Yorkshire, YO62 5UY
Standard Adult: £11.50
Group Adult: £9.10
There are also Gift Aid options.
Opening Days/Time: Open Tuesday - Sunday 10:30am-17:00pm
These details are subject to change so please check their website for up to date information before your visit: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nunnington-hall
National Trust, Nunnington Hall Guide Book
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Hi I'm Dominique and I manage the history blog Some Sources Say where I dive into archival records & secondary sources to discover fascinating historical people, places & events. I love too many different eras to commit to a niche, so this blog is a general historical ride, one month we might be in Edwardian England and another in 1950’s America!
You can follow me on Twitter @somesourcessay, I also have a Youtube Channel Snapshot of History.