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  • Joanne Herd

Discover the Charm: Yorkshire Manors, Gardens and Stately Homes

Last updated February 23, 2024

Yorkshire, with its rugged dales, sweeping moors, and quaint villages, is home to some of the most magnificent manor houses and stately homes in England.

This region, with its dramatic moors and time-worn pathways, serves as a living backdrop to some of the most enduring tales in English literature. In novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, the Brontë sisters drew their inspiration from these lands, crafting stories that have captivated readers for generations.

One of the best ways to step into the pages of these books is to explore the many Yorkshire manors and stately homes that dot the landscape. From the grand halls of Castle Howard to the ruins of Bolton Castle, the rugged Yorkshire coast to the rolling Yorkshire dales, let's take a journey through Yorkshire's most charming country houses and stately manors.

Castle Howard (North Yorkshire)

Castle Howard, set within the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is one of Yorkshire's most iconic stately homes. Located about 15 miles northeast of York, this estate is renowned not only for its architectural grandeur but also for its role in many period films and TV shows, such as “Brideshead Revisited” and “Bridgerton."

Construction of Castle Howard began in 1699 and took over a century. The house was originally intended to be in the Baroque style, but the extended building time meant that the prevailing Palladian style of the mid-1700s was also incorporated.

A photo of Castle Howard, with the Atlas Fountain in the foreground. The impressive dome, rebuilt in the 1960s following a fire, is the central highlight of the Baroque facade.
Castle Howard

In 1940 the house was severely damaged in a fire. Its impressive dome collapsed, and nearly a third of the building was left open to the elements. Over the following decades restoration works were undertaken, and restoration work continues today.

The gardens of Castle Howard are as impressive as the house itself, featuring a variety of landscapes from formal gardens to natural woodlands. Highlights include the Temple of the Four Winds and the Atlas Fountain, each offering unique views over the estate.

A visit to Castle Howard can be perfectly paired with a trip to Malton, the foodie capital of Yorkshire. Malton offers a variety of local eateries and shops, making it a great stop for lunch or to gather picnic supplies for enjoying in the countryside. It's also a great location to start exploring the North York Moors.

Harewood House (West Yorkshire)

The stone facade of Harewood House in West Yorkshire. The plantings below the facade are in bloom, with green grass  below and white puffy clouds in the sky above
Harewood House in summer

Harewood House, situated less than ten miles from Leeds in West Yorkshire, stands as a testament to the elegance and artistry of the 18th century. This impressive estate is not only celebrated for its stunning architecture, but also for its significant art collection and beautifully landscaped grounds.

The construction of Harewood House was completed in the late 1700s, with interiors masterfully designed by the renowned Robert Adam and a magnificent collection of furniture by Thomas Chippendale. The house's art galleries host a wide range of paintings, including works by renowned artists such as J.M.W. Turner.

The gardens and grounds of Harewood House are a key attraction, designed by the famous landscape architect Capability Brown. The gardens contain a variety of landscapes, from the formal walled garden to the serene lakeside gardens.

Newby Hall (North Yorkshire)

Newby Hall, a quintessential Georgian manor house nestled along the banks of the River Ure near Ripon in North Yorkshire, encapsulates the elegance and refinement of the 18th century. This stately home, renowned for its exquisite interiors and expansive gardens, provides a vivid glimpse into Georgian life and style.

The historic house was built by Sir Christopher Wren (the architect who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London). It was later enlarged by John Carr and Robert Adam, one of Britain's most famous Neoclassical architects.

The meticulously restored rooms that display an array of period furniture and art. The highlight is the Gobelins Tapestry Room, adorned with beautiful tapestries that offer an unparalleled insight into the opulence of the era.

Newby Hall's gardens are a horticultural masterpiece, spanning over 40 acres, and are designed to offer year-round interest. From the formal symmetry of the herbaceous borders to the tranquil woodland walks, each garden space tells its own story. The renowned double herbaceous border, one of the longest in the country, is a spectacular sight, especially during the summer months.

Bolton Castle (North Yorkshire)

The towers of Bolton Castle, partly in ruins, can be seen over the high stone wall that surrounds the castle.
North Yorkshire's Bolton Castle

Bolton Castle, set amidst the breathtaking scenery of Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is a captivating 14th-century fortress with a storied past. This imposing medieval castle, located near the quaint village of Leyburn, offers an authentic glimpse into England's rich history, including its role as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots.

Despite being partially ruined, a significant portion of Bolton Castle remains intact, allowing an exploration of its towers, dungeons, and living quarters. The castle's architecture and defensive features, such as the arrow slits and battlements, provide a vivid illustration of medieval life and warfare.

Bolton Castle is surrounded by well-preserved gardens, including a traditional maze, a vineyard, and a herb garden that reflects the castle's historical use of plants for medicine, cooking, and cosmetics.

The falconry displays are a particular highlight, offering an up-close experience with birds of prey and insight into the ancient art of falconry that was once an essential aspect of noble life.

Ripley Castle (North Yorkshire)

Ripley Castle, located in the picturesque village of Ripley on the outskirts of Harrogate and the Yorkshire Dales, is a historic gem that has been the seat of the Ingilby family for over 700 years. This enchanting estate offers a blend of medieval architecture with later additions, providing a fascinating glimpse into centuries of British history.

As you wander through Ripley Castle, you'll be treated to a rich tapestry of stories and artifacts that paint a vivid picture of the Ingilby family's enduring legacy. The guided tours of the castle are highly informative, taking visitors through elegantly furnished rooms that house a collection of family portraits, antique furniture, and armor.

The castle is set within beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens, which include a walled garden, pleasure grounds, and lakeside walks. The gardens are particularly known for their stunning displays of flowers and plants, which provide a tranquil and scenic backdrop for a leisurely stroll.

Ripley Village, designed in the 19th century to resemble a model estate village, adds to the charm of the visit, with its quaint shops and traditional English tearooms offering a perfect spot for refreshment after exploring the castle and its grounds.

Brodsworth Hall (South Yorkshire)

Brodsworth Hall, situated near Doncaster in South Yorkshire and administered by English Heritage, stands as a magnificent example of Victorian grandeur, virtually unchanged since the 1860s. This stunning country house offers visitors an authentic glimpse into the life of a Victorian gentry family, preserved as if frozen in time.

The interiors of Brodsworth Hall are a testament to the opulence and eclectic taste of the Victorian era, with each room meticulously maintained to reflect its original 19th-century splendor. From the grand drawing rooms to the more intimate family quarters, the hall provides a rare opportunity to step directly into the daily life of its former inhabitants.

Surrounding the hall are extensive pleasure gardens, which have been restored to their Victorian-era layout and design. The gardens are divided into a series of smaller, themed areas, including a formal parterre, a fern dell, and a wild rose dell.

Burton Agnes Hall (East Yorkshire)

Snowdrops blooming along a path a Burton Agnes Hall.
Snowdrops at Burton Agnes Hall

Burton Agnes Hall, nestled in the East Riding of Yorkshire, stands as a stunning example of Elizabethan architecture, complemented by centuries of family history. This exquisite manor house, built in the early 1600s, has been the home of the Griffiths family for more than four centuries and is celebrated for its unique blend of historical charm and homely warmth.

The hall's architecture is spectacular, with its original Elizabethan carvings and plasterwork still intact, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistic skill of the period. Inside, visitors are treated to a collection of art and furniture that spans from the Elizabethan era to the present day, including contemporary pieces that reflect the family's ongoing passion for the arts.

The gardens at Burton Agnes Hall are equally lovely, offering a variety of experiences from formal layouts to more whimsical and naturalistic plantings. The walled garden is a highlight, featuring imaginative plantings, including a maze, giant board games, and a collection of campanulas, named after the hall. The woodland walk and the classical pond offer peaceful retreats within the estate's grounds.

Wentworth Woodhouse (South Yorkshire)

Wentworth Woodhouse, located near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, is a grand architectural masterpiece with a façade that stretches over 600 feet, making it one of the largest private residences in the United Kingdom. This imposing estate boasts a fascinating history, with its origins dating back to the 17th century, though most of the current structure was built in the 18th century.

The house is renowned for its unique blend of architectural styles, featuring both Baroque and Palladian elements. The interiors of Wentworth Woodhouse are just as impressive, with a multitude of stately rooms that showcase an array of period furnishings, intricate plasterwork, and an extensive art collection.

The estate's grounds are gigantic, offering visitors the chance to explore meticulously landscaped gardens, serene parklands, and picturesque follies. The gardens include formal areas with striking designs, as well as more natural landscapes that invite leisurely strolls and peaceful contemplation.

Nostell Priory (West Yorkshire)

Nostell Priory, nestled near Wakefield in West Yorkshire and managed by the National Trust, is a treasure trove of art, architecture, and landscaped beauty. This 18th-century Palladian house, originally founded as a medieval priory, was transformed into the stately home we see today, housing the Winn family for generations.

The house itself is a testament to the elegance of the Palladian style, with its symmetrical design and classical proportions. Inside, visitors can explore a series of richly decorated rooms that house an impressive collection of Chippendale furniture, one of the most extensive in the country, alongside a myriad of exquisite paintings and antiques.

Nostell Priory is also celebrated for its extensive parkland and gardens, offering a variety of landscapes to discover. The formal gardens, with their intricate bedding schemes, provide a colorful spectacle, while the wider parkland offers serene walks through woodlands and by lakes, perfect for a leisurely day out in nature.

Sewerby Hall (East Yorkshire)

Sewerby Hall, perched majestically on the cliffs overlooking Bridlington Bay in East Yorkshire, offers a stunning combination of early 18th-century architecture with expansive gardens and a picturesque setting by the sea. 

The hall itself, built in a classic Georgian style, has been meticulously restored to reflect its appearance in the early 1900s, providing visitors with a glimpse into Edwardian life. The interior rooms are adorned with period furniture and artifacts, each telling a story of the hall's past and the people who lived there.

Sewerby Hall is set within 50 acres of landscaped gardens, offering a peaceful retreat with stunning views of the Yorkshire coast. The gardens feature a mix of formal areas, woodland walks, and a zoo, home to a variety of animals, adding an unusual but delightful twist to the traditional country house visit.

Bonus: Fountains Abbey (North Yorkshire)

The ruins of Fountains Abbey. The roofless abbey stands against a blue sky, with green grass growing through the ruin.
The ruins of Fountains Abbey

As a bonus to our exploration of Yorkshire's manor houses and stately homes, we simply cannot overlook the majestic ruins of Fountains Abbey.

While not a manor or stately home, this UNESCO World Heritage Site near Ripon in North Yorkshire is one of the most remarkable and historically significant ruins in the country, warranting a special mention for its sheer beauty and historical depth.

Founded in 1132, Fountains Abbey, now managed by the National Trust is one of the largest and best-preserved Cistercian monasteries in England. The abbey's ruins, set within the stunning 800-acre Studley Royal Park, offer a glimpse into monastic life over 800 years ago.

The scale and beauty of the remaining structures, including the towering abbey church and the extensive cloisters, are a testament to the abbey's historical importance and architectural grandeur.

Adjacent to the abbey ruins is the Studley Royal Water Garden, a masterpiece of English landscaping. This garden blends natural landscapes with formal water features, ornamental temples, and follies, creating a tranquil and picturesque setting that complements the historical aura of the abbey ruins.

The bottom line: Yorkshire manors and stately homes

Each beautiful manor house offers a window into the region's rich history and cultural heritage. They serve as a reminder of the architectural ingenuity, artistic beauty, and historical significance that Yorkshire has contributed to the wider narrative of England's heritage.

Whether you're interested in exploring the intricacies of English architecture, enjoying the peaceful beauty of well-manicured gardens, or delving into the stories behind historic ruins, Yorkshire's manors, gardens, and stately homes offer something for everyone.

If you're looking for more Yorkshire travel inspiration, look no further! Check out our other Yorkshire posts here.

1 Comment

Feb 24

Fantastic write-up. I need to take that York castle tour someday.

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