In theory it’s easy to cycle from York, where we live, to Beningbrough Hall. In practice, though, it’s been raining almost continuously for a fortnight and cycling through mud isn’t everybody’s cup of tea (It’s a great route in the sumer, though).
We grabbed the one suny morning we had this week, and we drove there.
There’s been a stately home on this site since Elizabethan times, but the present pile was built between 1702 and 1716, in a style inspired by its owner’s two-year tour of Italy.
It went through many incarnations. One owner, a passionate horsewoman, ran a stud farm here. It also served during World War II as a billet for British and Canadian air crew.
Like many stately homes, Beningbrough Hall passed into the hands of the National Trust when its last private owners had to find money to pay Death Duties.
We caught some fleeting sunshine on the Chapel in the grounds.
“Is that river supposed to be there?”
It’s the point where the rivers Nidd and Ouse meet, but they’ve also ‘met’ a few fields, hedges and trees into the bargain.
Not to mention parts of the path…
Running the premises, from the National Trust’s point of view, hasn’t always been easy. In 1979 they teamed up with the National Portrait Gallery so the main rooms could be used for art exhibitions.
In better, non-pestilential times, you can go inside and view interiors and art without having to book in advance.
It speaks volumes that the present exhibition is on the subject of Well-Being (and that it ends on Hallowe’en).
Many families go for a walk in the country on Boxing Day. We tend to try and beat the rush, and go in the run-up to Christmas. We’re often out and about on the shortest day or, in this case, the day before. Dusk falls at 3:30 pm, so it’s generally not a long walk.
From the top of Sutton Bank, Yorkshire spreads out like a giant, sage-green quilt.
Someone wants their memories always to remain here.
Sutton Bank, as a scarp facing into the prevailing wind (South West), is ideal for gliders. The Yorkshire Gliding Club has been here in its present form since 1934.
The gliders make an eerie whistle as they ghost overhead.
Moved by seeing the horse hill figures of the Southern counties, a local businessman suggested creating one on the hillside of Sutton Bank. The Headmaster of a nearby school got wind of the idea and, in 1857 with the help of his pupils, made it a reality. The work involved marking and carving out the figure by stripping away the topsoil, followed by transporting tonnes of white limestone to the site.
Their horse is so Victorian! He stands, stolid, as if waiting for work – unlike the ancient horses who inspired it, who run like waves across the wild landscape.