Burnby Hall Gardens and Museum is in Pocklington, East Yorkshire, just off the A1079 south-east of York. It is the grounds of an old stately home, and it is absolutely beautiful. It is hidden behind walls and housing in the centre of Pocklington, and there are few clues as to what lies inside. It is somewhere I have been meaning to visit for years, having driven by it several (hundred) times on my way to York, and I’m sorry we haven’t been before, because we had the most wonderful time.
The biggest draw of Burnby Hall Gardens, for us, is the lake. It is home to ducks and a huge collection of fish – both in quantity and majesty of the fish themselves. You WILL spend a fortune on fish food from the shop but it is so worth doing. The bank is at water-level and the fish come right up to the edge to get the food. I am not joking when I say I saw down the inside of a koi carp. Some things in life you cannot un-see. We also got very wet at one point as the fish fought for the food and made the most enormous splash. The already jumpy five-year-old was brought to tears with the shock. The toddlers thought it was hilarious.
The grounds contain several things to explore, including a secret garden designed by local college students, and a beautiful Victorian garden containing a very long veranda inside which you can run up and down.
There is a cute little children’s playground too. There’s not much in it apart from a large climbing frame (which is wheelchair friendly), and a small Little Tikes type frame. But there are some nice picnic tables, and the park is fenced off with one gate, which is fab for families with tots with a habit of running off.
Further along, there are some more formal gardens, again with plenty more benches to eat a picnic, and an aviary with an assortment of lovely little birds.
Burnby Hall Gardens is home to The Stewart Museum, Mr Stewart being a previous owner of the stately home with a passion for exploration and colonialism. The museum is not very big but it is packed with interesting artefacts that he collected over the years, including a stuffed lioness and shark heads. Not to everyone’s taste but it certainly gives you a feel for times past and culture and practices left behind. Fascinating.
There is a rockery area to explore with some beautiful plants and flowers. This is the only bit of the gardens we had to abandon the double buggy to visit. The gardens have an Age UK award for accessibility, and I can see why. The whole place is designed thoughtfully – there was a lady in a wheelchair there we encountered several times on the way round, and we had few problems with our pushchair.
Right at the back of the gardens is The Stumpery. This is an environmental project where upturned tree stumps and roots are used as a draw for wildlife. There are also some fun-looking wood sculptures, which the children were enthralled by.
Overall, we loved our afternoon at Burnby Hall Gardens. The best bit was the fish. We bought some more food and fed them again before we left. We had a lovely walk round, saw some flowers, had a bit of a run, and sat on several benches for more snacks. Fab times!
Visit time – allow three hours. Under five’s are free!!
There is a free car park with a walk way through to the main entrance. It was about half full the day we went (a Saturday in June), but I can imagine it can get busy. There are streets within easy walking distance where you can park (check for restrictions), or a supermarket with a free car park across the road.
There is only one toilet block which, with two toilet-obsessed toddlers in tow, got a lot of use. It’s a long walk back from the far end of the gardens to them for very little legs, but older children should be able to get round without needing too many repeat visits.
There is a lovely cafe next to the museum (free WiFi!!!!!) which we only tried out for ice-lollies and a cup of tea, which were reasonably priced. We didn’t try out any of the food. There are lots of places to sit and eat a picnic.
Entry to the museum, and car parking are included in the price.
There are several family-friendly events coming up in 2013, including a Wind in the Willows family fun day, and lots of open-air theatre. Please check out the website for details – Burnby Hall Gardens.
Disclosure – we were given a complimentary family pass in order to do this review. Opinion is our own.