Take the “Tree Challenge” at Middlethorpe Hall and Explore York’s National Trust Hotel
14 Sep 2016
- Follow the trail around 20 acres of award-winning landscape gardens
- Identify 14 prize specimens, from a Deodar Cedar to a Sequoiadendron giganteum
- Gold Winner at the 2016 RHS Yorkshire in Bloom awards held in September
- Enjoy Traditional Afternoon Tea in front of a roaring fire with views of the gardens
- Relax in the 18th-century house with award-winning 2 AA Rosette restaurant
Autumn is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as the English poet John Keats reminds us. And what could be nicer than a long walk around the grounds of an elegant stately home, followed by afternoon tea in front of a roaring fire or dinner in a unique award-winning setting?
Set in 20 acres of gardens, Francis Place’s bird’s-eye view of Middlethorpe shows Thomas Barlow’s garden shortly after he had completed work on the house. He seems to have wanted a formal baroque layout of the kind he would have seen ornamenting the villas of Rome, but the flat terrain of the Vale of York made this difficult. In the mid-eighteenth century, Francis Barlow deformalized the garden, following the taste of the time in the style of Capability Brown. Today there is plenty to explore in these wonderful National Trust’s gardens.
Award-winning Head Gardener David Barker has overseen the gardens for over 34 years and he can often be found interacting with guests and the Head Chef who picks produce from the kitchen gardens. The enchanting walled gardens at Middlethorpe do not just produce a beautiful display of flowering shrubs and plants, but have been planted with vegetables and fruit: apples, pears, plums, peaches and greengages, all of which are used in the hotel kitchens by the Head Chef to create wonderful dishes. Four years ago, David planted twenty four pear trees down the centre arch of the walled garden. They are all old varieties, some with Yorkshire connections, and were chosen with some guidance from the Head Chef for their size and flat bottoms.
Guests can follow a special tree trail around the grounds of the Historic House Hotel, with a copy of their ‘Discover Middlethorpe Hall – A brief history and some trees of interest’ Guide and Map, to identify 14 prize specimens, from a Deodar Cedar and a Turkey Oak Tree to a Sequoiadendron giganteum.
Middlethorpe Hall is one of only three Historic House Hotels of the National Trust and is York’s finest hotel, restaurant and spa. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from the medieval city of York with its 13th-century defensive walls (the longest and best preserved in England), narrow streets, gothic minster and bookshops specialising in antiquarian books. Visitors can explore York’s Roman, Viking, and medieval heritage plus a wealth of attractions like the iconic York Minster.
Budding arborists will also spot a Northern Red Oak, a giant of an oak from North America, capable of topping 30m (100ft). The leaves are greenish on the top side with a bluish tinge below, but they really flare up in the autumn when they turn red before falling. A great photo opportunity!
In the stunning ‘Walled Garden’ visitors will discover a selection of Fruit Trees. In the autumn look out for the Medlars Trees which produce a fruit looking like a small pomegranate, ready for harvesting at this time of year, ideal for making jam, served at breakfast.
On the way to the lake, guests will encounter a Dawn Redwood, a deciduous conifer with a lovely conical shape. The soft bright green foliage turns a delicate reddish pink before falling in autumn to reveal the fluted orange bark.
And whilst by the lake, guests shouldn’t miss the River or Black Birch which in the autumn shows foliage with vivid yellow. As its common name suggests, the tree does well in damp ground and hence its location in the lake planting. It was introduced around 1736 from the USA.
Finish up at the English Oak, a stately and very unique oak that will reach a height and spread of 10 to 12 metres. This is a young tree planted some 100 years ago and offers spectacular views of Middlethorpe Hall where guests can walk back to.
After a one-hour walk, guests will return to the hall with a glowing complexion and a healthy appetite. The traditional afternoon tea menu (£22.50) is served in one of the grand historic rooms in the Hall full of paintings and antiques and with wonderful views of the trees just explored.
There are plenty of local gardens in York to explore whilst staying at Middlethorpe Hall including the National Trust’s Goddards House and Gardens. The former gardens of Noel Goddard Terry, of the famous York chocolate-making firm. Designed by George Dillistone, the garden complements the house’s Arts & Crafts style. With yew-hedged garden rooms, bowling green, wilderness gardens and plants for every season, it is also an oasis for wildlife. Just 2.5 miles from Middlethorpe.
Middlethorpe Hall’s 60 cover restaurant is overseen by Head Chef Ashley Binder. The classically panelled dining room overlooking the magnificent gardens are a special feature of Middlethorpe and provide the perfect setting for the excellent British food with both traditional and contemporary touches for which the hotel has been awarded two AA Rosettes. From the restaurant guests can view the Deodar Cedar on the South Lawn.
The boutique spa at Middlethorpe Hall with its blue-tiled pool and sauna is the perfect place to relax and recharge. The spa offers a selection of treatments with NEOM Luxury Organics and Decleor.
Middlethorpe Hall really does provide a unique Yorkshire experience combing city and country like no other hotel, whilst being part of the National Trust, with all profits benefiting the hall and charity.
Tailor Make Break at Middlethorpe Hall
Experience all that Middlethorpe Hall and its surroundings have to offer with tailor-made breaks from £139 per person per night, based on two sharing a twin or double room, with a three-course dinner (£43 food allowance pp), early morning tea, use of the spa and overnight parking plus one of the following: chilled Piper Heidsieck in room; one-day Yorkshire Pass to discover York’s attractions; champagne afternoon tea for two or a 25-minute Decleor Aroma Back treatment for two. Valid Sunday to Thursday.
www.middlethorpe.com Middlethorpe Hall, York, Yorkshire, YO23 2GB, Tel: +44 (1904) 641241
B&B priced from £199.00 per night based on two sharing