The leaflet for Newby Hall and Gardens near Ripon, North Yorkshire declares “so much to see and do!” There is a lot of truth in that statement. Visiting a stately home with a tween and teenager I did expect to run out of entertainment quite quickly. However teens are like toddlers in at least one respect; if you keep moving, there’s a chance they won’t get bored.
We had a leisurely arrival in time for lunch. Just outside the entrance is a large, fenced picnic area. This time we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in the conservatory self-service restaurant. It was good food and definitely a little special.
Exhibits – Dollshouses and Bears
Near the restaurant is a large cabin which is now the permanent home of the Dolls house exhibition. This collection was crafted by two enthusiastic friends over a period of decades. I was completely unprepared for the vast number of astonishing homes of every style. The attention to detail was beyond belief. Charmingly, each home has a card telling its story, and the imaginary tale of the tiny residents. I could have spent a lot longer in this exhibit!
Just across the lawn is another cabin housing Gyles Brandreth’s Teddy Bear collection. If you watch “the One Show” on BBC1 you may have seen him talking about this collection several times. There are many antique bears. Some famous bears are the original item, such as the original Fozzie bear from the Muppets. They are displayed in a variety of scenes, including a chapel where there is a teddy wedding underway. Some very excited young children were enjoying this exhibit.
Both of these exhibits were free for visitors to the gardens.
Activities – Play, Water and Rail
For younger visitors there is a nice playground and a water splash area for hot days – bring their swimming costumes. My girls took a pedalo out on the small lake. The pedalos have a weight limit of 65kg and are not recommended for adults, so this was perfect for the girls to have a bit of independence. There are some charming old-fashioned banana boat swings as well.
For a few extra pounds we rode on the miniature railway. The train carriages are very small to sit on. Parents hold on to wriggling toddlers like glue. It’s good ride with views of the river and impressive flower borders.
Exploring Newby – Gardens or House
Lastly we explored the gardens, which are famous for their collection of species and floral displays. They desperately need more plant labels, but that’s just my opinion. There’s actually a plant sale stall at the exit, so it’s a great day out for gardeners. A lot of the far end of the grounds are laid out in an enticing grotto style. Around every corner or down each step is a new discovery and a new view. That kept us busy for a long time.
We kept our eyes open and spotted some curios in various corners. Our favourites were a seashell wall inside a gazebo and a door from the jail cell of a famous convict, set into a garden wall. We didn’t visit inside the house. It is a private home but is open to visit. I know it is stunning because it features as the backdrop for several TV dramas including Victoria with Jenna Coleman. I am not keen to pay the extra to go in because photography is not allowed inside the house.
Newby Hall is open just half the year from the start of April until the last weekend in September. A family ticket for the gardens was cheaper by two pounds when I booked online – I did this on their mobile site quite easily just before arriving.
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We visited at our own cost. This blog post is featured on Days Out Now.