When these gardens were created, there was no thought for visitors in wheelchairs. Some owners have adapted their gardens to make them more accessible although others have made no changes. Adding a handrail next to steps would be a start.
I have divided the list into two categories – those with the majority of the garden accessible to wheelchairs (Beningbrough, Brodsworth, Castle Howard, Harewood House, Kiplin Hall and Newby Hall) and those with partial access (Studley Royal Water Garden, Goddards, Nostell Priory and Rievaulx Terrace). I have taken this information from the gardens themselves and therefore cannot vouch for its accuracy. Always contact the garden before your visit to check on arrangements and opening times.
And many of the gardens have a map showing an accessible route around the garden. Check to see if you can download one from their website or collect a map from the Ticket Office.
Near York | YO30 1DD | Open All Year | National Trust
Twenty minutes from York, Beningbrough Gardens are signposted off A19.
‘Largely accessible grounds – flat, paved paths in stable block courtyard, grass and hard gravel paths throughout the grounds, some steps and cobbles in the laundry courtyard‘: National Trust
The National Trust has recently begun to restore the gardens with new planting schemes and flower beds. They have commissioned the award-winning garden designer Andy Sturgeon to develop several of the gardens including the herbaceous borders and Pergola.
There’s always something to enjoy at Beningbrough from snowdrops welcoming the end of winter to daffodils and apple blossom in the spring and the herbaceous borders in the summer.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Beningbrough was sold to John Banister who gave it to his nephew Ralph Bourchier in 1556. John Bourchier built the current house in 1716. It remained in the Bourchier family until 1827 when the estate was left to a distant relative Rev William Henry Dawnay, the future 6th Viscount Downe. After Beningbrough was inherited by Dawnay’s second son, the property was neglected until it was rescued by Lord and Lady Chesterfield in 1916. The estate was accepted in lieu of death duties by the National Trust after Lady Chesterfield’s death in 1957.
There’s a cafe, shop and accessible toilets.
For more photos of the garden, click here: Beningbrough Gardens
Near Doncaster | DN5 7XJ | Open All Year | English Heritage
Brodsworth is 5 miles north-west of Doncaster off A635 Barnsley Road. Follow the brown signs.
‘The terrace and formal gardens are accessed on tarmac paths but the Quarry gardens have self-binding gravel paths. Manual wheelchair users are advised to bring an assistant‘: Brodsworth Hall
Brodsworth Hall Gardens are a wonderful example of a Victorian garden. After years of neglect, they have been beautifully restored by English Heritage.
As was fashionable in the heyday of the garden, the Formal Gardens have been planted with a wonderful display of brightly coloured bedding plants.
Take a walk through the Italian Garden, the Fern Dell, the Statue Walks, the Grove and the Rose Garden.
Brodsworth Hall was bought at the end of the eighteenth century by Peter Thellusson and after a long legal battle was inherited by his grandson Charles Sabine Thelluson. Charles demolished the Georgian house and began work on a new house which was designed by Chevalier Casentini and executed by the architect Philip Wilkinson. The house and gardens were completed by 1870. After remaining in the family, Mrs Williams gave the house and gardens to English Heritage in 1990 by which time the garden had fallen into neglect.
There’s a cafe, shop and disabled toilets
For more photos of the garden, click here: Brodsworth Hall
Near York | YO60 7DA | Open All Year | Historic Houses
Castle Howard is 15 miles North East of York. Follow the brown signs from the A64
‘A mixture of cut grass and gravel paths in the grounds make them fully accessible. Unfortunately Ray Wood is not suitable for wheelchair users or those with restricted mobility due to uneven terrain’: Castle Howard
With over 1000 acres of park as well as the gardens near the house, it’s easy to spend a day at Castle Howard.
The Walled Garden is between the Car Park and the house.
There are statues, temples and follies as well as extensive walks through Ray Wood. As the ground is uneven, the Woodland Walks are not suitable for wheelchair users.
The estate was bought by the Howard family in 1571 and in 1698, Charles Howard commissioned William Talman to design plans for a new house. Talman’s ideas were rejected and a year later, Sir John Vanbrugh was appointed. Vanbrugh worked at Castle Howard until his death in 1726 after which his pupil Nicholas Hawksmoor continued the project. Horace Walpole visited in 1772 and wrote:
Nobody… had informed me that I should at one view see a palace, a town, a fortified city, temples on high places, woods worthy of being each a metropolis of the Druids, vales connected to hills by other woods, the noblest lawn in the world fenced by half the horizon, and a mausoleum that would tempt one to be buried alive; in short I have seen gigantic places before, but never a sublime one.
In 1850 W A Nesfield updated the south parterre, created the cascade at the South Lake and installed the Atlas Fountain. The parterre proved too expensive to maintain and was replaced by a grass terrace and yew hedges in 1890s.
There is a cafe, shop and accessible toilets
For more photographs of the garden, click here: Castle Howard
Near Wetherby | LS17 9LQ | Open All Year | Historic Houses
Harewood House is in the village of the same name, 5 miles from Wetherby.
‘The Woodland and Lakeside Walks are surfaced with gravel and some have natural steep gradients. Please take care and wear sensible footwear‘: Harewood House
The gardens and park at Harewood cover over 100 acres. The magnificent Terrace in front of the house was designed by Charles Barry in the nineteenth century.
The Head Gardener is Trevor Nicholson and he oversees the Lakeside Garden, the Himalayan Garden and the beautiful Walled Garden. On my visit, ethereal music added to the feeling of serenity in the Garden.
The Woodland and Lakeside Walks are surfaced with gravel and some have natural steep gradients. Unfortunately the ferry across the lake is not suitable for wheelchair users.
Henry Lascelles bought the land in 1738 using money from the West Indian sugar trade. Henry committed suicide in 1753 and in 1759 his son Edwin commissioned John Carr to replace the medieval Gawthorpe Hall with a new house renamed Harewood House. Edwin also instructed ‘Capability’ Brown to create the landscape park with the Y-shaped lake.
Harewood House Trust maintain and develop Harewood ‘for the public benefit’ while the house is lived in by David Lascelles, the 8th Earl of Harewood.
There is a cafe, shop and toilets accessiblel for wheelchair users.
For more photos of the garden, click here: Harewood House
Near Richmond | DL10 6AT | Open Part of the Year | Historic Houses
Kiplin Hall is midway between Northallerton & Richmond off the B6271, about 5 miles east of the A1.
Access to the grounds is quite complex accessible so here is a link to their site: Access Statement
The White Garden, Sensory Garden and Grass Maze are near the beautiful Jacobean House.
The Walled Garden has recently been restored and is full of vegetables, fruit and flowers for the house. They also sell the surplus so look out for the stall near the entrance – I bought some delicious raspberries!
There is a walk around the Lake to the Folly but there is only partial access for wheelchair users.
The House was originally built as a Hunting Lodge c1625, for George Calvert, Secretary of State to James I. Calvert later became 1st Lord Baltimore and was granted a royal charter by Charles I to settle a region in the Americas which was later called Maryland. Calvert died five weeks before the Charter was sealed, leaving the settlement of the Colony to his son, Cecil. The house contains a fascinating history of the four families who have lived at Kiplin.
There is a cafe, shop and wheelchair accessible toilets.
For more photos of the garden, click here: Kiplin Hall
Near Ripon | HG4 5AJ | Open Part of the Year | Historic Houses
Newby Hall is four miles from the centre of Ripon
‘Most of the paths within the gardens are shallow pea gravel, though Breedon (compacted) gravel has now been laid from the Ticket Office to the Railway Shop. Paths in the Woodland Walk are rough gravel or grassy woodland tracks‘ [and are weather dependent]: Newby Hall
There are so many areas of this award winning garden to explore. The magnificent double herbaceous border with the Shell Pavilions near the River Ure. Newby Hall is one of the very few gardens in England where you can arrive by boat!
The series of garden rooms include Sylvia’s Garden, the Rose Garden, Robin’s Walk, the White Garden, the Memorial Garden
and the Rock Garden. Restoring this part of the garden has been the focus for the new head gardener at Newby, Phil Cormie.
Sir Edward Blackett bought the estate in 1689 and built the house c1695-1705 possibly to designs by Christopher Wren and also laid out the gardens. Wings were added on to the east side by John Carr and William Belwood c1780 while the interior was designed by Robert Adam. Alterations were made at the end of the nineteenth century while in 1920s Major Edward Compton updated the garden. Compton was influenced by Lawrence Johnston’s garden at Hidcote and the garden has continued to be maintained and developed within the existing framework by his grandson, Richard and his wife, Lucinda.
There is a cafe and shop as well as accessible toilets.
For more photos of the garden, click here: Newby Hall
Near Ripon | HG4 3DY | Open All Year | National Trust
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens are off the B6265 from Ripon. Follow the brown signs for Fountains Abbey from A1.
There are three car parks at the site and as there are pros and cons for all. Here is a link to the National Trust’s Access Guide which will help you decide which is best for you – access guide
‘For wheelchair users and those with limited mobility there are level tar and chip routes through the gardens which are shown on the Welcome Leaflet map. This map shows the main challenges to those with mobility difficulties and which routes are accessible to mobility scooters‘: National Trust
When it is wet, it can be difficult to get to the Abbey ruins as access is over grass. From the Abbey, there is a walk to the Water Gardens – but there is a Car Park nearer to the gardens. Please note, there is no access from the Visitor Centre to the Abbey.
John Aislabie and his son, William created the water garden in the eighteenth century. Along with the geometrical design of the waterways, the Aislabie’s filled the landscape with follies, cascades and garden buildings including the beautiful Temple of Piety.
The National Trust is restoring the yew bosquets. A bosquet is part of a formal garden and is enclosed by clipped hedges, shrubs and trees. It creates a sense of surprise, as further views are only revealed when the visitor walks through the landscape.
The view from Surprise View or Ann Boleyn’s Seat is stunning although it would be even better if the National Trust cut some trees down! To complete the view, William bought the ruin of Fountains Abbey in 1767. Access to the upper path is not suitable for wheelchair users as the path is steep and narrow in places.
The Mallory family lived at Studley for over two hundred years and in 1667, Mary Mallory married George Aislabie. Their son John inherited the estate in 1693 and became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1718. Two years later, Aislabie was expelled from Parliament for his involvement in the financial scandal of the South Sea Bubble. He returned to Yorkshire where he began creating the water garden. John’s son William took over the project in 1742. William rebuilt the house, added the Chinese garden and bought the Abbey. A mezzotint by A. Walker created in 1758 shows how little the water gardens have changed.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden was made a UNESCO site in 1986.
There is a cafe and shop and accessible toilets.
If you would like to see more photos of Fountains, click here: Abbey & Water Garden
Overlooking York Racecourse | YO24 1GG | Open All Year | National Trust
The house and garden are at 27 Tadcaster Road, York. There is only accessible parking on site which must be booked in advance – 01904 771930
‘Grounds partly accessible, steep slopes, some cobbles and uneven paths’: National Trust
The Arts and Craft’s garden is divided into different areas and includes a grass tennis court
terrace, lily pond, rock garden and herbaceous borders,
The house was designed for Noel and Kathleen Terry of Terry’s confectionary in 1927 by Walter Brierley who died before the building was completed. The garden was designed by George Dillistone who had worked with Edwin Lutyens at Castle Drogo.
Goddards was bought by the National Trust in 1984 to use as regional offices.
There is a cafe, shop and accessible toilets
If you would like to see more photos of Goddards, click here: Goddards
Near Wakefield | WF4 1QE | Open All Year | National Trust
Nostell is on A638, Doncaster Road.
‘Path material varies throughout the garden. Tarmac and gravel from the stables to the house. Red Shale/ granite chips (compacted material between 1 and 40mm in size). Grass paths in the kitchen garden and certain areas of the Menagerie’ [Some paths are weather dependent]: National Trust
The Park and gardens at Nostell Priory stretch to over 300 acres. Near the house is the Orangery with the recently created Kitchen Garden.
There are herbaceous borders, wildflower meadows, lakes and woodland.
Beyond the Middle Lake is the Menagerie Garden which was created in 1743. Designed by Robert Adam, the zoo housed several exotic species including birds, monkeys and lions.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Priory passed through several hands until it was bought by the Winn family in 1654; it remained in their family until 1980s. Sir Rowland Winn, 4th Baronet, inherited the property in 1722 aged 16. After returning from his Grand Tour, he commissioned Colonel James Moyser to design a new house based, it is thought, on Palladio’s Villa Mocenigo. Moyser appointed James Paine to start the building work. Paine made several changes to the plans and worked for Moyser for the next thirty years.
Sir Rowland also appointed Stephen Switzer to create plans for the landscape although it is not certain how many of his ideas were implemented. After Sir Rowland’s death, Nostell was inherited by his son Rowland who chose Robert Adam to continue work on the house and to design the Obelisk Lodge.
In 1805, Nostell Priory was inherited by John Williamson, son of 6th Baronet’s sister, who adopted the surname Winn although not the baronetcy which passed to a cousin. In 1984, Nostell Priory was given to the National Trust in lieu of death duties.
There is a shop, cafe and accessible toilets.
If you would like to see more photos of Nostell, click here: Nostell
Near Helmsley |YO62 5LJ | National Trust
Rievaulx Terrace can be found just off the B1257.
‘Building – steps to entrance. Alternative accessible entrance, via side passage Grounds – partly accessible, grass and loose gravel paths, some steps. Benches available‘: National Trust
From the car park, walk through the woods and out on to the Terrace. There are stunning views over the Cistercian ruin of Rievaulx Abbey [English Heritage].
At the north end of the Terrace is the Ionic Temple
While at the southern end is the Tuscan Temple.
The slope below the terrace has thirteen vistas cut through the woodland allowing visitors to see the changing views of the River Rye and the Abbey ruins. In the Spring, the bank is covered with wild flowers and butterflies.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Abbey was given to Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland. On Katherine Manner’s marriage to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, the land passed to their son, the 2nd Duke. On his death in 1687, the estates were sold to Sir Charles Duncombe who left them in his will of 1711 to his nephew Thomas Duncombe. His son, also called Thomas, laid out the grassed Terrace which joins the two buildings c1758. The two temples were probably designed by Thomas Robinson. The estate remained in the Duncombe family until it was given to the National Trust in 1963.
There is a shop where you can buy snacks and an adapted toilet.
If you would like more photos of the Terrace, click here: Rievaulx Terrace