Duncombe Park - History and Facts | History Hit

Duncombe Park

Helmsley, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom

Duncombe Park

Peta Stamper

24 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Duncombe Park

Duncombe Park is one of Yorkshire’s most prominent historic houses and estates, overlooking the River Rye Valley and North York Moors National Park. Today, the estate is a National Nature Reserve while the house remains home to the Duncombe family.

Duncombe Park history

The 40,000 acre Helmsley estate became Dunscombe Park in 1694 when it was bought by Charles Duncombe. However, it was his nephew Thomas Duncombe who commissioned the Italianate baroque mansion in 1711. The Rievaulx Terrace, built in 1758 by Thomas Duncombe II, was originally land owned by Rievaulx Abbey before it was seized during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

Thomas had two neo-classical temple ‘follies’ built on the terrace: the first, a domed Dionic Temple with a floor paved with tiles from the abbey. The second, an Ionic Temple intended for banqueting. Both ‘follies’ were set within Duncombe’s impressive 18th century English landscape garden.

The property was passed down the Duncombe family, including Charles Slingsby Duncombe, Member of Parliament and High Sheriff of Yorkshire for 1790-1, who built an extensive art collection there.

Dunscombe Park became a girls’ school from 1914-1980, although the Rievaulx Terrace and temples were acquired by the National Trust in 1972. After 1985, the house was restored to the family home by the 6th earl Feversham. For fans of period drama, Dunscombe Park was later used during filming for the 2012 TV mini-series Parade’s End as fictional Groby Hall.

Duncome Park today

Duncombe Park provides ample opportunities for time travelling despite the great house being closed to the public. Visitors can still enjoy Duncombe’s vast estate, including discovery trails and orienteering courses, the great lawn, a scented ‘secret garden’, and a walk through medieval parkland to find the valley’s ancient trees.

The Ionic Temple’s basement also currently holds an exhibition on English landscape design in the 18th century, and the central table is still set as if for a meal. Be sure to also visit the National Centre for Birds of Prey, to which Duncombe Park has been home since 2013.

Getting to Duncombe Park

Duncombe Park is located one mile south-west of Helmsley, a 1.3 mile walk from the town centre. If driving, Dunscombe Park is reached on the A19 via Thirsk, or the B1257 from York. For those using public transport, you can get the 31X bus from York to Helmsley and walk 1.3 miles through the estate.

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