More Golden Tickets!

golden tickets

A couple of years ago we bought annual tickets to Castle Howard (aka Brideshead).

The annual tickets cost about £60 each and offered unlimited access to the gardens and several free admissions to the House as well.

At the time a day ticket cost about £10 so we knew we would have to visit at least half a dozen times to make the layout on the annual tickets worthwhile.

The grounds at Castle Howard are really lovely.

There is so much to see and a great deal of variety as the Summer turns into Autumn. The rhododendrons are spectacular and the walled garden is a delight. Anyone who has watched the 1981 Brideshead Revisited TV adaptation will probably never forget Charles and Julia angsting at the fountain; or Sebastian and Charles learning how to enjoy red wine in the Temple of the Four Winds. These and many other examples of follies and statuary are in the grounds to enjoy along with the backdrop of the fabulous Vanburgh architecture.

We visited Castle Howard seven times during the course of the season

and enjoyed the experience each time. Castle Howard is about twenty five miles from where we live so it was a bit of a trek. There are some alternative routes to get there so we tried to build variety into the journey as well.

We became so hooked on Castle Howard that the following year we bought annual tickets again and didn’t find any difficulty in getting value for the cash. It was lovely to know what the highlights of the garden were and ensure that we didn’t miss any. In addition we were able to visit the nearby Arboretum several times as that was included in the price as well.

We didn’t bother with the House too much; just one tour round each year. Although one year we paid extra to go round the House at Christmas and enjoyed the decorations and atmosphere.

After two years we decided not to re-new the annual tickets.

We easily managed value for money the second year but didn’t think we would make so many visits for a further year. However several years have elapsed since we last visited Castle Howard and we’ll probably go again this summer. Interestingly the annual tickets are now slightly cheaper than they were when we had them. There is now a Gold and a Silver ticket: gold tickets get more social events it seems. There are full details on the Castle Howard website if you’re interested.

This year we’ve already renewed our Gold Tickets for Sledmere House and Gardens.

The annual ticket offers unlimited access to both the House and the grounds. It costs £15.50 (with a reduction for oldies) and it’s worth every penny.

There’s a lovely walk at Sledmere around the perimeter of the grounds. You park opposite the village school and look for the notice telling you about the walk. The path runs alongside the deer park which usually has a large herd grazing in the parkland. There are some stunning views of Sledmere House and the beautiful Wolds landscape in which it’s situated.

Eventually the path reaches some high stiles: well above head height and not for the faint-hearted. If you get over this obstacle you’re walking right across the deer park in front of the House. There’s another stile on the opposite side of the park and then a short walk back to where you’ve left the car. Or, you can walk the route in reverse, starting with the stiles. The walk is identified as a “permissive walk” by the Sledmere Estate. This means that you don’t have any rights to the walk but the owners of the property have made it available to the public. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area. There is no charge for the walk and afterwards you can get a good Yorkshire lunch at The Triton Inn or at the cafe next to the Farm Shop.

There are several memorials in Sledmere village of which The Waggoners’ Memorial is the most famous.

It was commissioned in 1919 by Sir Mark Sykes, the son of the owner of Sledmere Estate. It’s a rather bizarre monument as can be seen on the York Stories website. On the edge of the village is a replica Eleanor cross which Historic England explains was built originally as a village cross but adapted later as a war memorial.

Further away from Sledmere, on the road to Garton-on-the-Wolds is an amazing memorial to Sir Tatton Sykes built in 1865. The Grade II listed memorial tower is described in detail on the British Listed Buildings website and can be seen for miles around.

Back to the golden tickets!

I mentioned some lovely Yorkshire gardens the other day.

They all offer annual tickets of one form or another. None of them are such good value as Sledmere Gardens but they could be worth buying if you live near enough to go there regularly. Well worth checking out.

Burton Agnes Hall: Annual membership

Scampston: Annual membership

Sewerby Hall: Annual membership

Newby Hall: Season ticket 

Helmsley Walled Garden: Annual Membership

Another of our favourite places is Rievaulx Terrace.

This wonderful National Trust property in the North Yorkshire Moors is well worth a visit for the spectacular views of the ruined Rievaulx Abbey and the landscape around.

Rievaulx Abbey

When we  visited Rievaulx Terrace in the Spring we were thrilled with the profusion of wild flowers growing in the woods adjacent to the Terrace. A complete delight!

wild flowers

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Let’s take a look at gardens with mazes.

maze garden

What can be more fun than trying to find your way out of a well planted maze?

This Countryfile Magazine

compiled a list of ten favourite mazes which shows what a great variety of designs there are.

Discover Britain

highlighted their favourite mazes in Lose Yourself in Britain’s Best Mazes.

We visited Burton Agnes Hall in East Yorkshire soon after the maze was planted in 1990.

Now the hedges are tall and dense and it’s great fun finding the centre and your way out again.

The Introduction to Mazes and Labyrinths website explains the fascination we have for mazes.

Many people feel the fascination of mazes, especially branching mazes where you can get lost, and there are myths and stories about them from Theseus to the modern day. When watching children (who usually run them rather than walking them!) it’s interesting that they rarely ‘cheat’ but follow the path to the centre, even if they could easily hop a wall and get there quicker.

In 15 Intricate Facts about Mazes

there’s a story of the largest corn maze ever created which was so huge visitors called the emergency services to help them find their way out!

And they helpfully explain the right hand rule for solving simple mazes.

In most simply constructed mazes, all of the walls are connected to the outer boundary of the maze—which means, trailing your hand along the wall when you start the maze will help you avoid getting lost in unconnected passageways.

We enjoyed visiting the maze at Hampton Court.

It was planted some time between 1689 and 1695 for William III and covers a third of an acre and with half a mile of paths. It’s possible that the current design replaced an earlier maze planted for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Imagine all those Tudor ladies chasing around its intricate layout.

The Daily Telegraph includes the Hampton Court Maze in its list of Britain’s most mind-boggling mazes along with the maze at Chatsworth House which we visited several years ago.

The Chatsworth House Maze was designed in 1962 for the 11th Duke of Devonshire.  1,209 English yews were planted to create the Maze.

In 2011 we visited Blenheim Palace for a day out.

This magnificent World Heritage Site needs more than just one day to see everything that’s on offer. The Marlborough Maze was opened in 1991. In addition to cannonballs, trumpets and flags  the maze also includes a V sign in honour of Winston Churchill, who was born at the palace. The head gardener, Hilary Wood, told The Guardian that it takes six people with hedge trimmers a week to prune the maze’s two miles of tapered yew hedges every October.

Somehow, we missed the maze when we visited Cliveden but it’s one of several National Trust Properties which maintains a maze along with a mass of secret doors, gardens and hiding holes.

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“That’s our famous maze. C’mon, let’s go and take a look.”







5 Yorkshire Walled Gardens worth visiting.

Sledmere House and Gardens

I love walled gardens and each of these is worth a visit.

Sledmere House, Grounds and Gardens

We visit Sledmere House, Grounds and Gardens regularly as we have annual Gold Tickets which gives free admission after the initial visit.

The walled garden is a delight and ever changing but this walkway is one of our favourites.

The walled garden at Sledmere House
Sledmere June 2015

Burton Agnes Hall

We made our first visit to Burton Agnes Hall in the mid-1980s and it’s been a pleasure to watch the garden develop over the years. There’s a maze in the northeast corner of the walled garden which was planted in 1990. We saw the maze for the first time shortly after it was planted with 700 yew bushes. It’s a pity we didn’t make a note of the layout because now the hedges are so thick, once you’re in it’s hard to find your way out.

Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens
Burton Agnes June 2014

Castle Howard

This photograph was taken during our first visit to Castle Howard in 2006. We’ve been back several times since and find new delights on each visit.

Castle Howard
Castle Howard August 2006

Sewerby Hall and Gardens

One of my most vivid childhood memories is seeing for the first time the monkey puzzle trees at Sewerby Hall. They’re still there; just taller! The walled garden at Sewerby Hall is a blaze of colour in the summer and the rose garden is bee-heaven.

Sewerby Hall
Sewerby Hall August 2013


We’ve only visited Scampston on a couple of occasions, most recently in 2009. The garden is a stunningly beautiful contemporary garden designed by the renowned Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf. The garden opened to the public in 2005 and features a modern, perennial meadow planted alongside more traditional areas.

Scampston Hall
Scampston June 2009

I’m sure we’ll be visiting these beautiful walled gardens again soon. But there are so many other walled gardens in Yorkshire that we haven’t been to look at yet. Top of the list is the walled garden at Helmsley ; and the gardens at Newby Hall look fabulous too.

We visited Sledmere walled garden a few weeks ago. In the main grounds it was the height of the daffodil season and there were carpets of primroses under the trees.

The walled garden was cleared and ready for the new season. This is the same walkway as the first photograph in my blogpost; just from the opposite direction.

Sledmere House and Gardens
Sledmere March 2017

The vegetable garden was waiting to be planted:

Sledmere House and Gardens
Sledmere March 2017

And this path to the summer house will be a blaze of colour later in the year, I’m sure.

Sledmere House and Gardens
Sledmere March 2017


Sledmere House and Gardens
Sledmere August 2014

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