Ever since I studied the Georgians at Primary school, I have been in love with Beningbrough Hall. This grand 18th Century house and gardens, voted Visitor Attraction of the Year for 2013 by Visit York, is just a stone’s throw away from the city. A day out with the children and their grandparents gave a perfect chance to try it for size with the iPad generation.
The approach to the hall leads up the drive towards the main entrance and steps, giving a marvellous view of the house. I imagine this vista is not dissimilar to that facing arriving Georgian aristocracy back in the 1700s, as there is no modern clutter.
All this majesty was lost on the children who, after paying a very reasonable £20.75 for a family ticket, wanted to go straight to the adventure playground for a scamp around.
Compared to the modern adventurous playground they encountered at Castle Howard a few weeks back, Beningbrough Hall was rather tired and well worn. To be fair there were signs advertising a new playground coming in 2013. The children, however, took to the wood next door and following the lead set by others, constructed a den using some rather substantial branches lying around.
After a picnic lunch under the trees, looking over the ha-ha to the fields beyond, we ventured into the house. A tired seven year old required us to use every distraction trick in the book, going up the ‘secret’ servants stairs to the top floor where the play room and interactive displays were situated. He remained relatively unimpressed but our 11-year-old daughter enjoyed the dressing up, portraits and nose-modelling!
We wandered along the landing, watched over by the many marvelous 18th century portraits and descended the great stairs (I know, we are doing this tour backwards!), through the entrance hall and out into the walled gardens.
These are beautiful gardens to enjoy with children, having large open lawns for cartwheels and football. It was filled with families enjoying all of these, without a wisp of snooty disapproval that often pervades classic house grounds.
We all had the now customary ice creams before we left, coming in at regular ‘York’ prices and departed with a 50 per cent success rate. My youngest found the house and history rather slow, although he was more tired and grumpy than usual. My daughter, however, loved the sense of theatre, drama and scale. To be honest, I didn’t care as I enjoyed my trip back in time.