The National Trust is opening the doors to more than 200 of its houses and gardens for free this weekend, and we are lucky to have some cracking properties on our doorstep.
On Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 April, everyone can enjoy unpaid access to most of the trust’s UK portfolio of historic properties during its Free Weekend – aimed at reconnecting us with the great outdoors after another long winter.
All you have to do is go to the website and download a voucher for the place you fancy.
Whether it’s building a den in the woods at Nostell Priory or looking for the signs of spring at Fountains Abbey & Studley, the National Trust has lots of activities on offer to guarantee a weekend of family fun. Here are six ideas to make the most of the trust’s generosity…
Beningbrough Hall, near York
A new exhibition features trails, walks, talks and displays celebrating the life and times of RAF men and women stationed at Beningbrough during the Second World War. Alternatively just enjoy a walk round some of the 370 acres of parkland and a stroll through the 18th century house filled with art, including paintings from the National Portrait Gallery. Photograph © Martin Dawes / geograph.org.uk
Treasurer’s House, York
Tucked away behind York Minster, Treasurer’s House has many tales to tell – not least in the cellar, where the ghostly league of Roman soldiers famously like to march. Join a guided tour (ages eight plus) to see if they reveal themselves this weekend. Or just admire the collection of antique furniture, ceramics, textiles and paintings.
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, Ripon
If they had a TV show called Britain’s Best Ruins, Fountains Abbey would storm it. The Cistercian abbey – or what’s left of it after Henry VIII finished – is breathtaking, and it is set within the elegant surrounds of a Georgian water garden and medieval deer park. There are free guided tours of the abbey throughout the weekend to hear what life was like for a medieval monk.
Nunnington Hall, Helmsley
It’s something of a windy road from York that leads to Nunnington Hall but well worth taking. This charming Yorkshire manor house, tucked away on the banks of the River Rye, constantly springs surprises from the miniature room collection in the attic to remarkable temporary exhibitions of photos and art. April marks 100 years since the Fife’s were married at Nunnington: see the Hall dressed just as it was in 1913 as preparations for the big day took place.
Nostell Priory & Parkland, Wakefield
This 18th century mansion, built on the site of a medieval priory, contains Chippendale furniture and paintings by Brueghel and Hogarth. For the kids, there’s lots of exploring to do in the 300 acres of parkland, plus an adventure playground. On Sunday, April 21, there’s a bike ride with Wakefield Cycling Forum across the parkland.
East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley
Cosy East Riddlesden Hall was once the hub of a thriving farming community. Today trust guides tell its history, pointing out the exquisite embroidery and oak furniture, and the riverside walks are lovely. Bring some bread to feed the ducks and explore the natural playground and wildlife hide.
- Go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/freeweekend and download a free voucher for the location of your choice