Norton Conyers Garden: the happy accident

Sometimes there are high expectation that come crashing down (like at the Bowes Museum).  Other times things aren’t even planned and they turn out to be wonderful surprises.

The story goes like this: we’d planned to spend Sunday morning driving between Helmsley, Thirsk and Ripon, before our 2pm appointment with Markenfield Hall, on its last day of opening for the year.  But there was a problem.  We’d visited Helmsley by 11am and found that Ripon and Thirsk were closed.  What to do then?   I scratched my head and looked at all my house apps to see where we could go.  Sitting there in the square in Ripon, with no better plan.

I noticed I’d seen a sign for Norton Conyers about 5 mins before arriving at Ripon, but without internet access I didn’t know opening times.  But we chanced it.  And when we got there is was decidedly shut.  So after sitting there for 30 mins, we left.

As we drove out of the gates I twisted my neck back and caught sight of “Open Sundays” and I thought it said 2-4pm.  But we were on our way to Markenfield Hall, as we’d planned.  And we agreed that if we had time we’d come back to Norton Conyers.

This is all very unlike me: I am someone who plans my days thoroughly, knowing full well that D’s preferred way of “just pottering” results in seeing nothing and wasting time when things aren’t open (especially in a world where a house or garden might only be open on “the second Tuesday in months beginning with “J”, between 3-5pm).  D also likes looking around shops, whereas I say I don’t like looking around chains that exist in London/any big town and so will do shops as long as they are independent.  I had gained some evidence therefore that looking around towns with no set (or researched) plan isn’t always fruitful, whereas at least at a house there will usually be a cafe and a shop to provide entertainment, even if the house is a damp squid.

So we went to Markenfield Hall (no shop, no cafe, but lovely) and then raced back up the road to Norton Conyers.  I’d never seen D drive so crazy.

And guess what?  When we got there (3.50pm), we discovered the garden was open until 5pm!!!!!

But it was lovely.  And we were the only visitors.  We bought raspberries picked fresh from the garden and sat in the derelict greenhouse munching on them.

When visited: June 2014


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