Just before the weather warmed up, in mid-April, I went with friends to visit Beningbrough Hall, near York. It's another National Trust property (rocking that membership!), a Georgian mansion in the Italian Baroque style. Completed in 1716, it has a chequered history, including acting as a billet for British and Canadian airmen during WWII. It was acquired by the Treasury in lieu of death duties, and was offered to the National Trust in 1958, though devoid of contents. It seems that for many years the Trust wasn't sure what to do with it, and at first it was not open to the public. In recent years, a collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery has led to its use as a gallery for portraiture. There are many 18th century portraits displayed and some special exhibitions. When I was there, we saw contemporary portraits of women who have made a significant contribution to the Arts. They have also imported some furniture and there's a display about WWII and the airmen. It's all quite interesting, though it lacks the personality of some of the Trust's other properties that have been closely associated with one family or one special person.
Beningbrough is set in some attractive gardens but it was all still winter-dormant, with very little colour apart from the daffodils. We enjoyed a breezy, chilly but pleasant walk around the estate's perimeter, following the course of the River Nidd, which joins the River Ouse at this point. There were newborn lambs leaping in the fields and some shy spring flowers under the trees. Tiny wild violets are mostly mauve but you occasionally see yellow or white ones, as pictured. The village in the distance (above) is Newton on Ouse, which we drove through on the way. It is very pretty.