Yorkshire is a sprawling county — it’s so large that it’s often sub-divided into the four points of the compass. Given its scale, Yorkshire has natural beauty in abundance from the Dales to the wild coastline. It’s not just nature that provides places of interest: dotted around the county, stately residences are nestled within parkland and manicured gardens.
Visiting these grand residences offer a glimpse into the lives of the previous generations of owners who built and enhanced these properties over the years, often with very deep pockets. Many of these homes have been passed onto organisations such as the National Trust or English Heritage, however, many remain in the original families. Whether privately owned or maintained by a charitable organisation, the custodians often open the doors each year to thousands of visitors to help fund the upkeep of these properties.
This opportunity gives visitors the ability to explore and enjoy these incredible properties. With that in mind we have detailed our top ten stately homes to visit in Yorkshire.
Castle Howard is probably Yorkshire’s most iconic stately homes. Dating back to the late 17th century the property boasts an imposing baroque facade. This impressive style is carried through to the interior with state rooms that wouldn’t look out of place in a palace, a must-see feature is the Dome Room, into which streams natural light. As you’d expect of a property of this era, the grounds were landscaped by the famous Capability Brown, blending formal gardens, walled gardens and parkland. Visitors can tour on the land train, picnic by the lake and enjoy refreshments at the lakeside cafe. For those younger ones feeling a bit more energetic, there’s a fantastic adventure playground to explore. Castle Howard hosts various events throughout the year such as guided tours of the house and gardens as well as season events such as Christmas at the Castle where the house is transformed by thousands of decorations.
Sitting just north of Leeds, Harewood House is easily accessible from the centre of the city. Access is via an imposing gatehouse that opens into park land that takes visitors down a long winding drive. The house, a magnificent Georgian mansion is set in 100 acres of landscaped grounds.
Dating from the 18th century, the house is known for its impressive art collection, featuring works by Turner, Gainsborough, and Reynolds. Harewood house is another property where the grounds were designed and built by Capability Brown. The visitors centre houses a cafe and an adventure playground to burn off some of the excess energy of those younger people. Harewood House also has a collection of unusual animals that includes various rare birds and even penguins! Boat rides around the lake help visitors explore the grounds whilst various events throughout the year put the house and gardens to good use.
Wentworth Woodhouse is the first National Trust property on our list. It certainly can lay claim to being one of the most impressive Yorkshire stately homes, and possibly one of the largest in the North. The façade stretches over 600 feet, and the interior is no less impressive. Opulence is one word that can easily describe this location, set in 50 acres once the house has been explored, various guided tours are run daily, the gardens offer visitors plenty of surprises and unique sights. Located just off the M1 near Barnsley, the location has a cafe and ample parking facilities, being particularly buggy friendly.
Newby Hall is an exquisite 18th-century house known for its stunning Robert Adam interiors. Situated in North Yorkshire near Ripon, visitors can tour the house to marvel at the intricate plasterwork in the Double Drawing Room and the beautifully adorned bedrooms. Newby Hall has a reputation for the wonderful gardens as well as being geared up for children. A popular attraction is the miniature railway that takes passengers on a tour of the extensive gardens, which follows the edge of the river Ure. An exciting play area is also a big feature of any visit to Newby Hall; the gardens also havea ‘ferry’ that allows visitors to power themselves across the lake. If any refreshment is required after all the exertion, the on-site cafe is a great place to stop.
Nostell Priory, located near Wakefield, is another National Trust property. As you’d expect, this Georgian stately home has impressive landscaped formal gardens surrounded by parkland. The interior of the main house is home to stunning rooms and rare works of art and furniture by Chippendales.
Sitting in 300 acres of parkland, visitors can explore on foot or even by bicycle exploring on a family friendly bike trail, the ride culminates at the restored Obelisk Lodge. Once finished on the bikes, visitors can discover the edible kitchen garden, filled with seasonal crops, admire the rose garden then enjoy the woodland adventure play area that hosts a 30-metre zip wire.
Beningbrough Hall and Gardens
Just outside York sits the Georgian mansion Beningbrough Hall, stunning gardens and parkland surround the property. Dating back more than 300 years, Beningbrough has an interesting history, at one point becoming a billet for RAF personnel. Another National Trust property, visitors can explore the house and extensive gardens that, in the last twenty years have been carefully updated. For families an adventure play area keeps the children occupied and visitors are encouraged to fly kites on the south lawn. The house itself homes a fantastic art collection, often welcoming visiting collections of contemporary and traditional artworks.
Sewerby Hall, situated on the East Yorkshire coast, is a charming Georgian house overlooking the sea.
The unique clifftop position has spectacular views over Bridlington. Set in 50 acres, Sewerby Hall is home to magnificent gardens and even a zoo. Whilst not commonplace among Yorkshire stately homes, Sewerby Hall’s zoo is home to some interesting critters — capuchin monkeys glide from branch to branch whilst micropigs snuffle and grunt their way through the fields. Many more animals will delight visitors, especially those younger ones who will love saying hello to each type of animal.
The 18th century house itself is a Grade I listed property built in 1714-1720, and was completely restored between 2013-2014. The house is now presented as an Edwardian Country house.
Burton Agnes Hall
Burton Agnes Hall sits in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The stunning property is an Elizabethan manor house built between 1601-1610. Very much still lived-in, the property has never been sold, only being passed between families via marriage or inheritance and is still a private residence. As one of our favourite Yorkshire stately homes, Burton Agnes Hall is open all year round — visitors can access the house and gardens, enjoy the adventure playground and local woodland make for exciting places to explore. Plants which are grown in the walled garden nursery can be purchased from the on-site shop.
Dating back over 700 years, Ripley Castle is situated near Harrogate. Whilst not one of the largest Yorkshire stately homes, it is no less impressive, in fact it has been in the same family for over 700 years. The castle adjoins the village of its namesake where visitors can enjoy a pint in the local pub or a scoop of ice cream in the famous ice cream shop.
Closed during autumn and winter, the castle springs to live around Easter, opening the gardens and house to visitors. Guided tours provide visitors with a sneak peak behind the doors of this private residence.
Kiplin Hall, nestled in the North Yorkshire countryside, is a Jacobean mansion built in 1619, by George Calvert who interestingly founded Maryland in United States. Home to stunning tapestries, period furniture, and the gardens are as much of a draw as the house itself. The property is also the location of an award-winning cafe, where delicious afternoon tea can be had after enjoying a walk around the grounds. The expansive lake provides the perfect place for a lakeside stroll, visitors can meander through the woodland and parkland, then discover the walled garden that houses season produce.
We really are spoilt in Yorkshire, the stunning countryside homes these architectural marvels. Exploring the homes and gardens is not only an escape from day-to-day life but also helps maintain these properties for generations to come. Most are hundreds of years old, dating back to long lost eras that we could barely relate to now. However, they provide an insight into this time of opulence and unimaginable wealth that has helped shape our society, environment and culture. So put on your comfy shoes, pack the picnic and enjoy the sights, sounds, gardens and art that these stately homes have to offer.