Happy birthday Beningbrough!

This year, Beningbrough Hall is celebrating a very exciting anniversary; it’s been 300 years since the current hall was built. Beningbrough has had many owners since 1716, and this year is all about telling the stories of the people who have shaped it's history.

" If walls could speak, what tales would they repeat?"
- Beningbrough Hall

The stories from the people who have called Beningbrough home will be shared at various points throughout the hall and gardens – you can pick up a map from reception which shows you what to look out for including 300 tea-cups and tea trays on the stairs. Visit to find out why! Here’s a brief taster of some of Beningbrough’s history...


John Bourchier was only 16 when he inherited the Beningbrough estate, but he intended to leave his mark on the area. He decided to build this Italian Palace in Yorkshire, inspired by his Grand Tour of Europe .


In 1827, William Henry Dawnay inherited the Beningbrough estate, and later moved in with his wife Lydia. The Dawnays were an old Yorkshire family, and kept Beningbrough within the family until 1916, nearly a century. They made many interior changes, and also planted many trees, which we can fully appreciate today.

Early 1900s

Lord and Lady Chesterfield managed to purchase Beningbrough for only £15,000 in 1916. After the break-up of the larger Beningbrough estate, they moved into the hall and furnished it with their luxury furniture, and completely redecorated. Lady Chesterfield remained there until her death in 1958.

Late 1900s

As Beningbrough came to the National Trust in 1958, it was initially difficult to open as a visitor attraction, due to the lack of furnishings and funds! The 1970s however saw the start of a restoration project and a great deal of conservation work at Beningbrough. The partnership with the National Portrait Gallery was instrumental in the restoration, as they agreed to lend 120 18th Century portraits to bring the hall back to life....you can still see them to this day. 

Things to see throughout the year

One of the new elements to look forward to is the Visiting Portraits Gallery ‘Director’s Choice’. To celebrate our 300th birthday, National Portrait Gallery Director Nicholas Cullinan has chosen four portraits of people who have shaped British history and culture. There will be one portrait for each century, and a fourth to represent the future. See the Brownlee brothers in this Olympic year and a John Singer Sargent portrait of Octavia Hill - one of the co-founders of the National Trust.
Alan Bennett by Tom Wood is a visiting portrait from the National Portrait Gallery
Portrait of Alan Bennett by Tom Wood hanging on the wall
Alan Bennett by Tom Wood is a visiting portrait from the National Portrait Gallery

If you visited Beningbrough during the Royals: then and now display over the past couple of years, you'll probably recall the giant portrait on display above the fireplace in the great hall. This year in place of this portrait, a projector will bring to life a new series of images, literally 'coming from the walls'. A selection of recently discovered photographs from the archives will be on display for the first time - several showing how the families lived at Beningbrough and behind the scenes restoration.
For families, grab a brand new trail for the birthday year where Benny the Beningbrough labrador will lead you on adventures through time.
There’ll be a number of special events throughout the year to celebrate Beningbrough’s 300th birthday. Keep an eye on the What’s On page for more information including the new autumn display Maps and Memories - through photography, maps and local memories; an insight into the changing fortunes, previous owners and uses of the land. This temporary display runs until 23rd October on Tuesdays - Sundays in the Hayloft (accessed by stairs only). All other birthday displays are around the garden and hall with lift access.
We can’t wait for you to visit during 2016 and help us to celebrate Beningbrough’s 300th birthday - cake will always be on sale in the restaurant!