Ten historic houses to visit in Yorkshire holiday cottages

Ten historic houses to visit in Yorkshire

Sarah Harradine 31 July 2018

How better to delve into the past than with a look around one of Yorkshire’s grand historic houses? Many come with beautiful grounds and gardens, perfect for enjoying a picnic before taking a tour of the grand stately home. 

Little ones won't be bored either with play areas, mazes and adventure playgrounds to keep even the most energetic children entertained. There’s also miles of gardens and woodland to explore with four-legged friends often permitted to join you in the grounds. 

And although it's difficult to find a place to stay that’s quite as grand as these Yorkshire historic houses, we do have a delightful selection of cottages for you to return to after your visit. Browse our range of luxury Yorkshire cottages to find the perfect base for a getaway and for more inspiration read our guide to National Trust in Yorkshire.


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๐Ÿ‘‰ Castle Howard, North York Moors

๐Ÿ‘‰ Harewood House, near Harrogate

๐Ÿ‘‰ Nunnington Hall, near York

๐Ÿ‘‰ Newby Hall and Gardens, near Ripon

๐Ÿ‘‰ Duncombe Park, Helmsley

๐Ÿ‘‰ Scampston Hall, near Thornton-le-Dale

๐Ÿ‘‰ Burton Agnes Hall, near Driffield

๐Ÿ‘‰ Burton Constable Hall, near Beverley

๐Ÿ‘‰ Hovingham Hall, near Helmsley

๐Ÿ‘‰ Fairfax House, York

1. Castle Howard

Castle Howard near Malton is arguably one of the most-recognised stately homes in Yorkshire and has been featured in several versions of Brideshead Revisited. Built during the 1700s it contains both Baroque and Palladium architecture and the beautiful rooms include the Grand Hall with its painted domed ceiling.

There is a lot to explore outside too, including walled gardens, fountains, statues, a boating lake and Ray Woods. It’s a lovely day out for the whole family and there is a great farm shop on-site too, where free bones are on offer if you have a dog with you! (subject to availability). Dogs are also welcome in the grounds and to join you in Castle Howard’s Courtyard Café

Don’t miss: There's a great calendar of events throughout the year to enjoy at Castle Howard - from a weekly Parkrun every Saturday at 9am to a spectacular classical concert held each August.


2. Harewood House

harewood ho.

Harewood House is a magnificent stately home between Harrogate and Leeds. Built in the 18th century by Edwin Lascelle, Harewood House is known as one of England’s treasure houses. No expense was spared on its creation and you’ll find family portraits by Gainsborough, furniture by Thomas Chippendale and gardens designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

There is lots to do in the grounds of Harewood House too, with boat trips, giant games in the walled garden, an open-air cinema and an adventure playground that kids will love. The impressive Yorkshire stately home was featured in ITV’s Victoria and in the Downton Abbey film and you can explore rooms such as Princess Mary’s Dressing Room and the State Dining Room to be transported back in time.

Don’t miss: Visiting the Harewood Bird Garden which is home to 40 species of birds including Chilean Flamingos and Humboldt Penguins, which you may even get to feed during a visit.


3. Nunnington Hall

Nunnington Hall

Nunnington Hall  is a Yorkshire manor house that’s located on the banks of a peaceful river near York. A stone bridge over the river separates the grounds of the house from the village if you want to take a stroll. Explore the beautifully-restored period rooms within this National Trust property and outside, a walled garden, peacocks and flowering meadows can be enjoyed by all the family.

If you've got children to entertain there are various nature trails, bug hunts and events throughout the year and grown ups can admire a range of art and photography exhibitions which take place in the attic gallery and hall. It’s also well worth taking afternoon tea at the atmospheric tearoom during your visit which boasts wonderful views across the garden.

Don’t miss: Taking a look at the Carlisle Collection of 16 miniature rooms, which contains items such as musical instruments and the entire works of Shakespeare – all in miniature!


4. Newby Hall and Gardens

Newby Hall and Gardens near Ripon is a great family-friendly day out in Yorkshire. This 18th-century country house beside the River Ure is a grade I listed building with a delightful collection of furniture, paintings and precious artefacts. Inside the Hall, rooms include the tapestry room, the statue gallery and the billiards room, all an exceptional example of 18th-century interior design. Built in the 1690s by Sir Christopher Wren, the house was later adapted and enlarged by both John Carr and Robert Adam. 

Children will absolutely love the miniature railway and adventure playground within the grounds of Newby Hall. Both children and adults will love visiting the teddies at Gyles Brandreth's Teddy Bear Collection, in their 'paw'pose built home in the gardens. Little ones can also check out the Mr Men and Little Miss items on offer in the gift shop while their parents find something lovely to buy. 

Don't miss: The Dollshouse Exhibition, which is one of the finest collections of dolls houses and miniatures in the world. Attention to detail in the collection is outstanding, with exhibits ranging from small 'room boxes' like Grandmama's Parlour to the much grander Beagle House. The exhibition is free to visit with a gardens admission ticket. 


5. Duncombe Park

Duncombe Park

Located on the edge of Helmsley in the North York Moors, Duncombe Park is a historic house that’s set in 450 acres. The land comprises gardens, 300 acres of parkland and a nature reserve so there’s plenty to see and do on a visit. One of Yorkshire's finest historic houses and estates, it is the seat of the Duncombe family whose senior members assumed the title Earl and Countess of Feversham until 1963. 

Events throughout the year include steam, country and antique fairs and the International Centre for Birds of Prey is based on the grounds too. Many people go to just discover the parklands with their waymarked walks, discovery trails and orienteering courses for all ages. 

Don’t miss: Duncombe Park was featured as the imposing Misselthwaite Manor in the 2020 adaptation of The Secret Garden and while ambling through meadow and woodlands in the grounds you can seek out a tunnel of trees and The Father Time sundial which featured in the film.  


6. Scampston Hall

Scampston Hall
From Instagram: @historic_houses

The 17th century Scampston Hall is a wonderful example of a Regency country house. It’s first and foremost a family home although you can arrange a tour with Sir Charles Legard and a team of friendly guides. The house has many fine works of art, furniture and porcelain to discover, and it is often used as a wedding venue and setting for corporate events. 

Home to Christopher and Miranda Legard, and lovingly restored by the family, you won't be kept behind ropes or barriers, enabling you to see everything at close quarters and ask any questions that you may have about the house. Scampston offers a diverse range of events throughout the year, including plant fairs, gardening courses, academic lectures and painting classes. It also hosts the annual Yorkshire Game and Country Fair which is held in the spectacular parkland.

Don’t miss: The Scampston Walled Garden which is set within the walls of Scampston Hall’s original kitchen garden and was designed by Piet Oudolf to complement the adjacent 18th-century Capability Brown-designed parkland. 


7. Burton Agnes Hall

The Elizabethan Burton Agnes Hall has been described as the perfect English country house and has a beautiful setting in the Yorkshire Wolds. It’s filled with treasured art and furniture and was originally designed by Robert Smithson – Master Mason to Queen Elizabeth I. Set in the village of Burton Agnes, near Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire, it was built by Sir Henry Griffith at the beginning of the 17th century to designs attributed to Robert Smythson. Home to the same family for over 400 years, fifteen generations have filled the Hall with beautiful treasures, from French Impressionist paintings to tapestries and carvings. 

The grounds are home to gorgeous gardens, a woodland walk and giant games to keep younger visitors happy. They will love ambling along the shady path to the woodland adventure playground which sits in a grassy glade at the side of the home. Hop on the double zip wire, tyre swings and five-person seesaw and if you have toddlers with you, there's a gentler play area for them to burn off some energy without getting hurt. 

Don't miss: Burton Agnes hosts a renowned jazz festival on its grounds each year - held over three days in July, it's a popular event which brings jazz lovers from all over the country to listen to a great line up of musicians. 


8. Burton Constable Hall

Another Elizabethan stately home in the Yorkshire Wolds is the magnificent Burton Constable Hall & Grounds. A Grade I listed building set in a 300-acre park, it is known for its 18th and 19th-century interiors and its fine 18th-century cabinet of curiosities. There are grand rooms filled with art and architecture as well as a restored stable block with exhibitions telling the history of the stables through the years.

Home to the Constable family for over 700 years, Burton Constable is one of the most interesting country houses to survive complete with its historic collections, making it a fascinating historical day out for all the family. If the house isn't enough, there are a variety of events on throughout the year including mindful yoga, willow weaving and the fun Muddy March. 

Don't miss: Behind the scenes tours lets you delve into the nooks and crannies of Burton Constable and there is lots of historic parkland to discover which was designed by Capability Brown.


9. Hovingham Hall

The Palladian-style Hovingham Hall is located in the Howardian Hills (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and lies between Helmsley and Malton. It's a thriving rural estate which has been owned by the Worsley family for 450 years and was the childhood home of the Duchess of Kent. Built in the 18th century on a site that the family have owned since the 16th century, it makes a great day out for those who love a little history in a beautiful location. 

As the majority of the estate lies within the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it really is a joy to visit - head to the Flower Gardens and The Dovecote, with the Glasshouse offering a taste of the tropical for those who like their blooms a little exotic. 

Don't miss: The house includes a beautiful domed ceiling, lots of architectural features and an array of artwork and furniture. Cricket is regularly played on the ground at the front of the house so you may well catch a game on a visit to Hovingham Hall - it is said to be the oldest continuously played on, private cricket ground in England.

10. Fairfax House

Fairfax House

From Instagram: @fairfax_house

Fairfax House is located in the centre of York and is one of the finest examples of a Georgian townhouse in England. The house has regular events and exhibitions throughout the year and contains an impressive collection of furniture, clocks and paintings. 

Explore hidden treasures and discover the secrets within the house as you are taken back to the glory days of city-living in 18th-century York. Originally the winter home of Viscount Fairfax and his daughter Anne, the house's richly decorated interiors and elegant stucco ceilings make it a masterpiece of Georgian design and architecture. Children will love meeting Gregory, the Townhouse Mouse, who along with his friends has left a family-friendly trail to follow through Fairfax House. 

Don't miss: The house is centrally located in York so a visit to Fairfax House can be easily combined with a visit to other York attractions. Walk around the city imagining the streets in Georgian times and visit the Jorvik Viking Centre if you fancy taking a trip even further back in time!


If you’re looking for more holiday inspiration, read our comprehensive things to do in Yorkshire guide which includes National Trust sites, Yorkshire walks and dog-friendly days out.

If these beautiful houses have you craving your own luxury Yorkshire trip, we have the self-catering cottage for you. Whether you are looking for a cosy retreat for two or a dog-friendly holiday home that will sleep the whole extended family, browse our full range of Yorkshire cottages to find your perfect base.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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