There are many fine stately homes on the eastern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales, including Kiplin Hall in Swaledale, Harewood House in Wharfedale and Ripley Castle in Nidderdale.
However for me, Newby Hall in Wensleydale outshines all the others with its combination of a fine Robert Adam decorated house, extensive well-maintained gardens and attractive walks leading down to the River Ure.
Newby Hall was built in 1690 to the design of Sir Christopher Wren. Since then it has been much modified, particularly by Robert Adam in the 18th Century at the behest of William Weddell, who owned the property from 1762 until 1792. His matrilineal descendants, the Comptons, own the property today.
In addition to large herbaceous borders, there are several individual themed gardens, which lead through to woodland and riverside walks. Other attractions include a miniature railway and three exhibitions.
It is worth noting that Newby Hall is part of the Historic Houses portfolio of properties (as also are Kiplin Hall, Harewood House and Ripley Castle) with members having free entry – see below.
Newby Hall Tour
Guided tours of the Hall take about one hour and need to be booked in advance as places are limited.
After an introductory talk in the Entrance Hall, the tour passes through ground floor state rooms, many decorated in Robert Adam style with several items of Chippendale furniture. The Tapestry Room, with its covered Chippendale Chairs, and the Dining Room, with its display of fine lead crystal glassware, were particularly impressive.
Ascending to the second floor, the tour passes through the Billiard Room and on to a series of highly decorated bedrooms, one of which was used by the Queen Mother when visiting. A curious circular room was designed by William Weddell as a wedding present.
On returning to the ground floor, there is a small Library, which leads through to the extraordinary Statue Gallery designed by Robert Adam to house the owner’s collection of Roman statues, representing different stages of life.
The Gardens and Walks
In total there are 25 acres of formal gardens plus another 15 acres of woodland area with views of the River Ure.
The main Herbaceous Border, or in fact double border, runs from the Hall down to the river.
On either side are individual gardens including the Rose Garden, the Autumn Garden, the Tropical Garden and the White Garden.
Close to the river are two spectacular Rock Gardens plus the Water Garden and the Woodland Garden.
The one mile Woodland Walk to the east of the formal gardens heads down to the River Ure passing some unusual and impressive trees along the way.
There are several other attractions catering for both adults and children including a Miniature Railway, a Boat Ride along the River Ure, a Water Play Area and an Adventure Garden with pedalo boats.
When I visited in Summer 2023, there were also three exhibitions to explore: a Teddy Bear Museum put together by the broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, a Dolls House Exhibition and a Zimbabwean Sculpture Collection.
The Garden Restaurant provides a wide selection of food and drinks in attractive surroundings, with both inside and outside seating.
Newby Hall and Gardens provides an excellent day out not just for adults but for children as well. However, unlike many similar properties I have visited, the children’s activity areas are well separated from the gardens and walks, which therefore can be enjoyed in peace by adults.
Unfortunately entry charges are relatively high, especially for children, but see below about Historic Houses membership.
Entry to Newby Hall and Gardens is £28 for adults and £24 for children, entry to the Gardens alone is £18 for adults and £15 for children. However if you take up annual membership with Historic Houses, you will get free entry, plus free entry to 300 other heritage sites. Enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’ and new members will receive a £5 discount. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.
We have reviewed several other properties under Historic Houses and see also Historic Houses versus National Trust – Which to join?
Additional Photographs of Newby Hall and Gardens
POSTED 29th August 2023 by STEVE HANSON. The external photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.