GTO’s Contributing Editor, Val Baynton, enjoyed a recent Houses of York Readers’ Day organised by Elaine Moss from VisitYork in conjunction with this magazine, and the group of 18 GTOs were intrigued by the hidden gems that were showcased. The morning started with a welcome from the Lord Mayor of York at the Mansion House and he emphasised the warm welcome the city gives to groups before outlining a little of the history of the Georgian property, also his official city centre residence. Tours, from experienced guides, are available on a range of themes.
A 10-minute walk took the group to Fairfax House, where they were split into two for excellent taster tours of the Georgian townhouse with its breathtaking stucco ceilings and acclaimed collections of furniture, paintings, silver and clocks. Val comments that the team at Fairfax House stressed the availability of tailored tours to suit the interests of the group.
Next it was a short walk to Barley Hall, winner of the Little Treasures of Britain Award at this year’s Group Travel Awards. The medieval townhouse allowed the group to absorb some of the atmosphere of York’s historic centre with its narrow alleyways. Costumed staff gave a humorous introduction.
A delicious lunch of soup and sandwiches was served a few minutes away at the Treasurer’s House. This was the first house given to The National Trust, complete with a collection gathered over 300 years. The group then walked to the York Pullman coach for a brief ride to another National Trust property, Beningbrough Hall. Set in rolling landscape and amidst beautiful gardens, this 18th century historic house was built to imitate a Baroque Italian mansion. Well informed volunteer guides are positioned throughout the house. Afternoon tea completed the visit.