Beningbrough Hall is a large Georgian mansion near the village of Beningbrough, North Yorkshire, England, and overlooks the River Ouse. It has baroque interiors, cantilevered stairs, wood carving and central corridors which run the length of the house. Externally the house is a red-brick Georgian mansion with a grand drive running to the main frontage and a walled garden.
The house is home to more than 100 portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. It has a restaurant, shop and garden shop, and was shortlisted in 2010 for the Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award. The Hall is set in extensive grounds and is separated from them by an example of a ha-ha (a sunken wall) to prevent sheep and cattle entering the Hall's gardens or the Hall itself.
Beningbrough Hall, situated 6.2 miles (10 km) north west of York, was built in 1716 by a York landowner, John Bourchier III to replace his family's modest Elizabethan manor, which had been built in 1556 by Sir Ralph Bourchier on his inheritance to the estate. Local builder William Thornton oversaw the construction, but Beningbrough's designer remains a mystery; possibly it was Thomas Archer. Bourchier was High Sheriff of Yorkshire for 1719–1721 and died in 1736 at the age of 52.
John Bourchier (1710–1759) followed his father as owner of Beningbrough Hall and was High Sheriff in 1749. It then passed to Dr. Ralph Bourchier, a 71-year-old physician and from him to his daughter, Margaret, who lived there for 70 years. Today a Bourchier knot is cut into a lawn adjoining the house.
After over 100 years in the Bourchiers' possession, the estate passed in 1827 to the Rev. William Henry Dawnay, the future 6th Viscount Downe, a distant relative. He died in 1846 and left the house to his second son, Payan, who was High Sheriff for 1851. The house was neglected, prompting fears that it might have to be demolished. In 1916 however, a wealthy heiress, Enid Scudamore-Stanhope, Countess of Chesterfield, bought it and immediately set about its restoration, filling it with furnishings and paintings from her ancestral home, Holme Lacy in Herefordshire.
During the Second World War the hall was occupied by the Royal Air Force then latterly, the Royal Canadian Air Force, when under No. 6 Group of Bomber Command, they took over some of the bases in the region (such as the nearby RAF Linton-on-Ouse and RAF Leeming).
Lady Chesterfield died in 1957, and in June 1958 the estate was acquired by the National Trust after it had been accepted by the government in lieu of death duties at a cost of £29,250. In partnership with the National Portrait Gallery the hall exhibits more than a hundred 18th-century portraits and has seven new interpretation galleries called 'Making Faces: 18th-century Style'. Outside the main building there is a Victorian laundry and a walled garden with vegetable planting, the produce from which is used by the walled garden restaurant.
Beningbrough Hall includes a wilderness play area, community orchard, an Italianate border and garden shop. It hosts events, activity days, family art workshops, and an annual food and craft festival which in 2010 was a Big Green Festival.
** – Beningbrough River Walk – **
A fantastic circular walk with sweeping views across the parkland and majestic views of the hall in the distance. Taking in the river, woodlands and the wider estate, do the whole loop enjoying the many different views onto Beningbrough. There’s lots of potential to see different wildlife on this walk too, making it a great option for all the family to get out and engage with the great outdoors. Classified as Moderate, this walk should take between one hour 45 minutes and two hours 20 minutes. It is three and a half miles long and is dog friendly.
Good to know. Follow the yellow waymarkers. For your safety and to protect the cattle and calves, please stay on the footpaths and avoid roaming across the fields. Aberdeen Angus cattle can be seen in the parkland for much of the year. They belong to the tenant farmer who also runs the farm shop and cafe. Take care when the cows are in the fields and please be aware the bull may be there too.
Start: Beningbrough Hall car park
1. Starting with Beningbrough's visitor entrance behind you, head to the bottom right of the car park to the gate. Go through the gate and follow the path along towards the farm shop. Carry on to the left leaving the farm shop behind you, heading along the tarmac road.
2. Turn right onto the exit road, as this is one of the main driveways into Beningbrough, please take extra care for passing cars. Follow the road until you reach a wooded area with a metal gate on your right. Head through the gate, following the path through the woodland, (if you reach Beningbrough Lodge and the exit gate, you’ve gone too far).
Spring bluebells. This area of woodland is transformed by beautiful bluebells in the spring.
3. Turn right onto the public pathway and head down the hill, through the woods. Beningbrough’s Home Farm can be seen across the fields on your right.
Nature hurdles. The nature hurdles along this path have been created to provide shelter for small animals like hedgehogs to hide in, as well as a place for birds to nest. In addition to providing a natural wind break, bugs and beetles and other insects thrive on the dead wood, making it an ideal habitat for them to enjoy.
4. At the bottom of the hill, there are two gates, close together. Go right through both gates picking up the river path. If you turn left here, you will be heading to Beningbrough village and eventually York. Keep right to complete a circular route of the estate.
5. Continue along the river bank – this is the only area not fenced from the cattle along the route. You can catch glimpses of the hall on your right as you carry on along the route.
River traffic. As you reach the river there’s lots of wildlife to potentially catch sight of. Look out for speedy sand martins darting in and out of nests along the river bank in spring. In early summer, salmon can be spotted swimming up river to spawn in the Dales. You might catch sight of or hear an oystercatcher, curlew, kingfisher, green woodpecker or grey heron anywhere along the river. Really lucky walkers can even spot otters.
6. You will reach a small sandy area where the River Nidd joins the River Ouse, follow the path round to the right. This is a great spot to enjoy views back towards the hall.
Tansy Beetle. The once common iridescent green beetle is now relatively rare and the River Ouse is quite possibly its most northerly location in the UK. As its name implies, it relies on the tansy plant for food and shelter. There are protected areas along the river where the tansy colonies live. You can find more information on the tansy beetle from the Tansy Beetle Action Group.
7. Keep going past the Victorian Water Tower (that used to bring water to the hall and the skating pond) continuing along the path.
8. When the path splits giving you the choice to keep left along the riverbank, or right up towards Newton village, select the right-hand path.
9. Before you reach the village, look out for the small gate on the right-hand side. With Newton Lodge on your left-hand side, cross over the entrance driveway into the woodland opposite and follow the bark mulch pathway through the woods.
10. Keeping to the right, clearing the woods, follow the path along the edge of the fields. Look out for the frame with views back to the hall.
11. Following the path, you will come to first a small pond on your left quickly followed by a picnic area. Enjoy a picnic on one of your Beningbrough strolls.
12. Having passed the picnic area, head through the gate leading out onto the concrete path which leads up to a gate with the road and entrance to Home Farm on the other side.
13. Go through the gate, cross the exit road and follow the sign towards the Farm Shop, retracing your steps back to the car park.
End: Beningbrough Hall car park. You made it!
Dogs are welcome in the parkland anytime it’s open. With miles of paths to explore, you and your dog will be spoilt for choice. Take a look at the routes or ask for a new parkland walks leaflet when you get to admissions.
** – The Gardens – **
Discover the formal gardens, walled kitchen garden, herbaceous borders and the blossoming Pergola all of which make up the many, varied gardens at Beningbrough. There are over eight acres of formal gardens to explore, relax among the flowers or maybe compare the size of your vegetables. They include a two acre working walled garden with a large fruit collection, several herbaceous borders, a newly installed and planted pergola and less formal areas managed for wildlife. Each area tends to be at its best at a different time of the year and watching the season change is often a reason to return time after time.
RHS partner garden.
The National Trust is delighted that Beningbrough is an RHS partner gardens. RHS members can visit for free Tuesdays to Fridays from 1 March until 31 October. Please bring your membership card on the day as the NT is unable to verify memberships directly with the RHS.
A sense of the seasons.
Using imagery from the team across the year and created as part of a previous exhibition, you can immerse your senses in a journey around the garden and parkland in all weathers. From frosty footsteps to fluttering butterfly wings, this short video (click to play)
is a snapshot of the nature and wildlife you might find on your visit. Be sure to have the sound on...but you'll have to imagine the smells.
The second exciting and most significant development yet for Beningbrough’s garden transformation was completed in spring 2018 with the planting of the new Pergola. The Wisteria 'Alba' is in its infancy now, but holds all the promise for this tranquil area of the gardens, growing over oak beams and underplanted with bulbs, flowering shrubs and topiary. One year on, the changing colours make for an eye-catching stroll.
The 300,000 bulbs planted along the ha-ha walk in autumn 2016 were the first changes introduced as part of award winning garden designer Andy Sturgeon's garden vision for Beningbrough. Andy Sturgeon is working with the National Trust to help revitalise the gardens at Beningbrough with a long term vision.
Double herbaceous border.
The heady scent of mock orange fills the air along the pathway through this part of the garden, at its best in early summer. Pastel colours prevail in swathes of perennials including geraniums, peonies and wisteria growing up obelisk frames.
A little piece of Italy.
Beningbrough was built in 1716 by John Bourchier following his Grand Tour around Europe and was particularly inspired by his stay in Italy. The Italian border is filled in high summer with colourful Mediterranean blooms suited to hot climates and periods of drought but still able to withstand the Yorkshire climate. One of the next major phases in the garden's developments will be to tranform this whole area into the Mediterranean garden with planting over the entire area, not just the borders, a new water feature and pathways to get in among the garden. Work has started and will continue through 2020. See how it's progressing on a visit.
Bulbs, blossom and blooms.
Often described as a garden for all seasons, the changes throughout the year can be tracked with a different area looking at its best. Winter structure makes way for the first shoots and bulbs. Falling blossom petals create carpets of colour and borders fill with summer blooms turning in time to autumn seed heads.
In 2016 visitors helped to mark Beningbrough's 300th birthday by planting 300,000 bulbs on a new walk along the south ha-ha. As winter turns to spring this area is blanketed in colour, from the white of the snowdrops to the pale purple of the crocus and the vibrant yellows of the daffodils. Stretch your legs and soak up the views over the south parkland and beyond.
Bedding out Victorian style.
The West Formal Garden sits next to the conservatory, a Victorian addition to the hall. The planting changes twice a year, as was the Victorian fashion to show off the brightest and boldest plants and foliage. The East Formal, in contrast, is a cool, scented space to watch the fish or sit in the summer house. The garden is attractive in different ways, even in the coldest months.
A stroll around Beningbrough's walled garden will take you through the historic pear arch, under the vines in the greenhouse and passed the growing produce. It's a popular spot for visitors and because of the confined space and use of produce, this along with the play area are the only parts of the garden that dogs are not permitted to visit. Over 50 varieties of apples and pears, plus many other fruits and vegetables, are cultivated using traditional methods in two acres of enclosed kitchen garden. Harvested produce like the Beetroots are used in the restaurant and surplus sold through the shop. Download the Beningbrough Walled Garden
fruit plan (PDF / 0.2MB).
Take a bit of Beningbrough home.
If you're inspired after your exploring, pause at the stables shop for something for your own bit of green space. Inside browse the books or head to the outdoor shop where for most of the year you can find tools, kits and ornaments to decorate your patch with. The benches are full of plants as the season evolves and the team can happily ask the gardeners if there was a particular plant you're after. There's a changing local bench for when the garden team have surplus from their propagation or harvested produce and in autumn a range of bulbs to pick up.
** – Facilities – **
• Restaurant - serving lunches and snacks using local seasonal produce including the day's harvest.
• Ice creams and water available from the shop.
• Shop and plant centre with many local products.
• Free parking, 100 yards.
• Coaches must come via A19 and use coach entrance. No coach access from the west via Aldwark toll bridge.
• Large vehicles, including camper vans, follow coach guidance.
• Suitable for school groups - Learning Centre and live interpretation (Victorian below stairs and Georgian costumes).
• Dogs are welcome in the parkland and selected areas of the garden on a lead. Assistance dogs can go in the buildings.
• Recently updated wilderness play area, including 7 metre pyramid tower.
• Family art workshops linked to the portraits in the house and other craft activities.
• Baby-changing facilities.
• Hip-carrying infant seats for loan in the hall.
• Play trails around the garden and seasonal activities throughout the year.
• Toys available to enjoy on the south lawn and play room on the top floor.
• Interactive play galleries in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery in the hall including make your own virtual 18th century portrait.
• Accessible parking bays in main car park, 50 yards from reception.
• Lift access to all floors of the house.
• Drop-off point 10 yards from reception available.
• Adapted toilets in stable block and on first floor of the house (accessible by lift).
• Level, flat paved entrance to reception building. Five wheelchairs available for hire from reception. Step access only with handrail to second floor of stable block reception building. Many steps to house entrance with handrail, or lift access available to all floors from East Courtyard of house.
• Largely accessible grounds - flat, paved paths in stable block courtyard, grass and hard gravel paths throughout the grounds, some steps and cobbles in the laundry courtyard.
• Wheelchairs available for use.
• Scooter available for use in the grounds.
• To read the National Trust full access statement (PDF) click here.
Location : Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, York, North Yorkshire, YO30 1DD
Transport: York (National Rail) then bus or 8 miles. Bus: Number 29 to Newton-on-Ouse operated by Reliance, approximately 1 mile walk from the bus stop through the village and parkland.
Opening Times House: March through October, Daily, 11:30 to 16:00.
Opening Times Gardens, Shop: March to October, Daily, 10:30 to 17:00. Weekends in Winter
Tickets: Adults £14.40; Children £7.20
Tickets, Winter: Adults £8.00; Children £4.00
Tel: 01904 472 027