Wonderful selection of world-famous houses including Harewood & Temple Newsam
Spectacular gardens such as Newby Hall
Marvellous opportunity to see the work of both Robert Adam & Thomas Chippendale at their best
Some truly magisterial medieval ruins at Fountains Abbey & elsewhere
North Yorkshire has spectacular scenery
Yorkshire, England’s largest county, has an unrivalled group of magnificent houses and gardens. Some have been open to the public for decades, if not centuries. Several of those included in this tour will be visited outside of normal opening hours, while others are not open to the public, thus giving us a more leisurely series of visits when we can enjoy their treasures under ‘connoisseur’ viewing conditions.
Our framework will be the architectural development of the country house together with their surrounding landscapes and gardens. Equally important will be the evolution of decorative design in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, culminating in the career of Thomas Chippendale, England’s most famous furniture designer. Indeed, we are particularly fortunate that James Lomax, the world’s leading expert on Chippendale, has agreed to co-lead several of our private visits and his unrivalled knowledge will surely add burnished lustre to our discoveries.
Yorkshire born Chippendale exercised astonishing influence on his contemporaries, partly through The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, the first text of its kind solely devoted to the furniture and furnishings of eighteenth century interiors in England, resulting in his illustrious international reputation today. It is appropriate that one of our major visits will be to Temple Newsam House near Leeds, a stunning building, which contains one of the best series of historic interiors in the country and it is the home of The Chippendale Society and where many pieces of his furniture are displayed.
Several other magnificent houses also have wonderful interiors (particularly the work of Robert Adam at his most inventive), marvellous contents and some of Chippendale’s finest pieces – in this latter context Newby Hall and Harewood House, both of which we shall visit under ‘connoisseur’ viewing arrangements, will be a special treat. Other private visits include, from an earlier period, Markenfield Hall, a rare survival of a romantic, moated medieval manor house, and in total contrast, a recently designed classical country house by noted Yorkshire architect Francis Johnston, hardy ever open. Landscapes and gardens will include the wonderful park at Studley Royal and some truly innovative modern planting at Newby and Scampston.
Our base will be the comfortable 4* Old Swan Hotel in the charming Victorian spa town of Harrogate. The discovery of mineral laden waters led to Harrogate’s development as ‘grand’ hotels were built to accommodate the many visitors who came to holiday in the town and the Old Swan is one such. It sits on a rising eminence in the town centre and it has generously sized rooms decorated in simple style with good bathrooms. The hotel has an elegant bar area and a large dining room, and it has ample parking. All the town’s attractions are within easy walking distance.
Day by day
- Day 1: Sunday 26 September
- Participants should arrive and check into The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate by late afternoon and free parking is included. We meet formally for our first visit when we go by coach in the early evening to Markenfield Hall, the home of Mr Ian and Lady Deirdre Curteis, who will be our hosts for a private visit and a Welcome Cocktail Party. For once, the term “unique” is a justified description as this is the finest example of a moated fourteenth-century house in England – a haven of romance and peace! We return to The Old Swan for our first group dinner in the private Library.
- Day 2: Monday 27 September
- Newby Hall, the home of the Compton family, is remarkable by any standard. This very fine house contains superb furniture, decorative arts and sculpture. The internal decorations include a series of rooms created by Robert Adam at the height of his powers. Then there are the famous gardens, which we will have time to explore, with autumn colours in abundance. Our private tour of Newby will include coffee and lunch. A short drive will take us to one of the county’s historic landscape parks, Studley Royal, one of the finest water gardens of the eighteenth century. It also features a historic medieval ruin, Fountains Abbey. We return to our hotel and the evening will be at leisure.
- Day 3: Tuesday 28 September
- Harewood House is one of England’s finest mid Georgian country houses. Designed by local architect John Carr and altered in the nineteenth century by Sir Charles Barry, there are a series of superlative state rooms by Robert Adam, and it contains the most important collections of furniture by Thomas Chippendale (who grew up nearby at Otley) still in the rooms for which it was designed. The house is a must for any enthusiast, and we shall enjoy a connoisseur’s private tour. There will be time for a snack lunch (not included) after which we return to Harrogate. One of the ‘not to be missed’ experiences of any visit to the town is a Champagne High Tea at the famous Betty’s Tea Rooms, which we have reserved for our group. Unsurprisingly, the evening will be at leisure.
- Day 4: Wednesday 29 September
- We drive south to Leeds where much of our day will be spent at the magisterial Temple Newsam. Built during the Tudor and Jacobean periods, its interiors were constantly updated so that it has a remarkable series of state rooms from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Even more remarkable are the amazing contents which have been acquired over many decades to complement the interiors. The furniture includes stellar pieces, including many by Chippendale and the house is the headquarters of The Chippendale Society. We have a simple group lunch after which we visit Lotherton Hall, formerly the seat of the Gascoigne family and now a country house museum. Externally the house is a mix of late Georgian, late Victorian and Edwardian elements, whilst the interiors reflect the Edwardian emphasis on convenience and comfort. We return to Harrogate and have dinner in a local Italian restaurant.
- Day 5: Thursday 30 September
- Scampston Hall is a late Georgian gem, the seat of the Legard family. Rarely open to the public, we shall have a private guided tour when the fine collection of paintings and furniture will be shown to us. We shall also see the estate’s Walled Garden, justly famed for its innovative planting which was masterminded by Piet Oudolf. We continue to a nearby Private House, again very much not open to the public, designed in the modern classical style by the renowned local architect, Francis Johnson (who died in 1995). The commissioning owners have kindly invited us to lunch after which we will be shown the house and its notable collection of equestrian art, after which we have tea before returning to Harrogate where the evening will be at leisure.
- Day 6: Friday 1 October
- On our final morning we will travel to the RHS Garden at Harlow Carr for a guided tour, after which our tour will formally end.
- Price: £1,935 per person
- Deposit: £275
- Single Supplement: £195 (Double Room for Sole Use)
5 nights with breakfast at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate
2 dinners, a Champagne High Tea & 3 lunches with water, wine & coffee, free parking, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, car parking, the services of Tom Duncan & James Lomax
Travel to & from Harrogate, 3 dinners & 1 lunch
Weather Conditions for Yorkshire in September are:
Average Temperature between: 12oC - 22oC / 53oF - 71oF
Rainfall: 81mm / 3.1inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.