Splendid scenery amidst Yorkshire’s North & East Ridings
First full day spent exploring historic York & its majestic Minster
Wonderful selection of houses, some not open to the public
Comfortable hotel in a rural village setting close to Helmsley, with excellent food
Yorkshire is not only England’s largest county, but it has more remarkable houses than almost any other part of England. A wonderful selection of building materials, a quirky and individual approach to architectural style, a fascinating group of owners who built, collected and gardened on the grand scale – all these features make it a most rewarding place to visit. We continue our series of visits to Yorkshire, returning to explore the hidden riches of the Northern Dales and the Eastern Wolds.
York is a city of ancient lineage: from the Romans to the Vikings and Normans it has played a strategic part in England’s early history. We shall explore its past against the historic backdrop of the Minster, one of the country’s great cathedrals, famed for its architecture and stained glass.
Most of Yorkshire’s truly great houses have been open to the public for many decades, if not centuries. Travellers from Celia Fiennes and Daniel Defoe have all remarked on the many great houses to be found hidden away. However, some of those to be included are either very much not open to the public, or will be visited outside of normal opening hours, thus allowing us a more leisurely visit when we can enjoy and savour their treasures, guided by the owners or their curators.
Indeed, a special feature of this visit will be the opportunity to explore the work of Francis Johnson. He was undoubtedly one of the finest English architects to work in the Classical style in recent decades. Whether adapting older houses for modern use, or designing from the start, he was remarkably innovative. We have been lucky to secure permission to visit one of the most interesting, where we shall be entertained in true ‘country house’ style.
Another feature of this tour will be the opportunity to discover some remarkable examples of medieval and later church architecture, particularly the parish churches. Some are medieval, while one each from the Georgian and Victorian periods are spectacular.
We shall be based in the lovely hamlet of Harome, at the 4* Pheasant Hotel, a few miles from the picturesque market town of Helmsley and the ideal location for our visit. The hotel is comfortable with wonderful staff, and its restaurant has an excellent reputation.
Day by day
- Day 1: Sunday 28 July
- Participants should arrive and check into the Pheasant Hotel, Harome, near Helmsley in the late afternoon. Later that evening we gather for a welcome drink followed by our first group dinner. Wine, water & coffee are included with all group meals.
- Day 2: Monday 29 July
- After breakfast we drive into York for a guided introductory walk to the historic city centre. York is a city of ancient lineage: from the Romans to the Vikings and Normans it has played a strategic part in England’s history. We shall explore its past against the historic backdrop of the Minster, one of the country’s great cathedrals. After some free time for lunch we drive out to Bishopsthorpe to visit Middlethorpe Hall, a member of the Historic House Hotels group. The house is a remarkably intact late seventeenth-century building of great charm, and demonstrates how conversion to use as a hotel can be done with great style with suitable contents and lovely gardens. Our visit will include Afternoon Tea, and when we return to the hotel the evening will be free.
- Day 3: Tuesday 30 July
- Much of today will be spent in the quiet, even deserted, countryside of Yorkshire’s East Riding. We begin at Sledmere, one of the most impressive houses of the Yorkshire Wolds country. The seat of the Sykes family, it sits amidst a wonderful park. The original house was a slow accumulation of ideas supplied by professional architects and the personal contributions of many talented Sykes baronets. All of this was destroyed in a devastating fire in 1911 and to the credit of the family, it was rebuilt almost exactly as it was. By great good luck, the original contents were saved and so today, one would hardly believe the present house was completed in 1917! We have coffee on arrival and a simple lunch after our guided tour. Burton Agnes, by contrast, is a mellow composition in brick and is almost certainly a house designed by the great Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson, and dates to 1601 to 1610. Internally it was altered in the eighteenth century and has fascinating contents. The gardens are wonderful. We return to Harolme and we have a group dinner later that evening at our hotel.
- Day 4: Wednesday 31 July
- Sutton Park is one of the most delightful of Yorkshire’s smaller country houses, built in 1750 for the Sheffield family, whose seat it remains. It has a remarkable collection of paintings and decorative arts, some originally from Buckingham House, now Buckingham Palace! We have a simple group lunch at the café after which we drive the short distance to visit a Private House designed by the renowned local classical architect, the late Francis Johnston, guided by the owner and where we shall also have Afternoon Tea. We return to our hotel and the evening will be free.
- Day 5: Thursday 1 August
- Today our first visit will be to Boynton Hall. It has a complex building history and has been lived in by the Strickland family, and their descendants, since 1549. It has been much altered since, including many interesting improvements in the eighteenth century, some probably by John Carr of York. Carr was responsible for the nearby and splendid St Andrews’s Church which we shall also visit. We then continue to Scampston Hall for a private visit of the house and a guided tour of the wonderful walled garden, created in recent years. Scampston was designed by Thomas Leverton and dates from 1800 to 1803. An austere façade hides one of the most magnificent suites of late Georgian rooms in Yorkshire – a truly great house. Lunch today will be included and the evening will be free.
- Day 6: Friday 2 August
- Hovingham Hall is a remarkable and eccentric essay in the Palladian style. It has long been the seat of the Worsley family and seems to have been designed by Sir Thomas Worsley himself, probably in the mid eighteenth century. The surrounding estate village is a model of its kind. We then continue to Helmsley where you will have free time to explore and have lunch. We return to the hotel and after a rest drive over to Castle Howard for a curator-led private visit of the remarkable State Rooms. We return to the hotel for our final dinner.
- Day 7: Saturday 3 August
- All good things must come to an end and so it will be for this visit. We leave after breakfast and some may wish to take this opportunity to visit some of the nearby houses and gardens.
- Price: £2,635 per person
- Deposit: £375
- Single Supplement: £575 (Double Room for Sole Use)
6 nights with breakfast at the 4* Pheasant Hotel
Limited number of Sole Use rooms: Two rooms at £495; Five rooms at £575 – please call the office for availability
3 dinners, 3 lunches with wine, water & coffee plus 2 afternoon teas, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, services of Tom Duncan
Travel to/from Harome, 3 dinners & 2 lunches
Weather Conditions for Yorkshire in July 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.