I have been a member of the National Trust since about 1984. I have a lot of tea towels from National Trust properties but this is the first one to have come to the top of my airing cupboard pile since I started this blog. In general, National Trust tea towels are pure Irish linen and therefore useable and, more often than not, designed by a named artist. When I first joined the National Trust, most properties had their own tea towels – a joy for someone like me – but now there are many more properties that have generalist, rather than specialist, tea towels. Beningbrough Hall was one of the first National Trust properties I visited once I had become a National Trust member. The good thing about membership is that you have free entry to all properties; this means you can revisit properties time and time again; you don’t have to spend hours at a time at one property to ‘get your money’s worth’. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t like one property, just go to another. For me, the advantage of membership is the gardens (so many gardens across England and Wales), looking around gardens of so many designs and of course the tea rooms and shops. The actual house isn’t usually my first priority.
Beningbrough Hall is diffferent. I loved the house. It came into the keeping of the National Trust in 1958 in lieu of death duties, as so many properties have. I like the history of Beningbrough Hall; built by John Bouchier in 1716 after his Grand Tour of Europe. He wanted to build an Italian Palace, as he had seen on his journeys, between York and Harrogate, overlooking the River Ouse. He achieved this with it’s magnificent facade which is depicted on the tea towel. He also commissioned an Italianate Border as well as a walled kitchen garden. This walled garden is maintained today, the produce of which is used in it’s restaurant. One of the things that makes Beningbrough Hall special is it’s longstanding partnership with the National Portrait Gallery which means there are more than 100 18th Century portraits (in keeping with the building) on display.
Looking at the tea towel, I see a beautiful design which captures Beningbrough Hall; I remember the visit to Beningbrough Hall on a sunny day and walking around the gardens. It was the weekend that John and I decided to go to the Great Yorkshire Show and stay in a Swallow Hotel in Harrogate. Since the Great Yorkshire Show didn’t have a tea towel, this one reminds me of a great weekend.
This was 30 years ago; the tea towel is in good condition incidentally. It was before Twitter and Blogging. If you like a good Blog that is informative and amusing, the sort that you are desperate for the next installment then you must read http://www.nationaltrustscones.blogspot.co.uk. This is about one woman’s odyssey to visit all the National Trust properties in England and Wales to sample all their scones (and rate them). This week she is celebrating her 100th scone. However, in July 2015, her 89th scone was at Beningbrough Hall and she rated it 4.5 out of 5. So Beningbrough Hall is worth a visit not only for the Italianate Border but also the scone.
Update: Chaos and Crisis – 18 October 2015
I have just been doing the ‘photo shoot’ for my next round of Blogs and, would you believe it, I found an identical Beningbrough Hall tea towel. Did I put this one away in the wrong pile? Did the system get muddled up? No. I have two identical tea towels, bought at least 10 years apart. Is this going to happen again? I hope not. I have come across several, bought at different times, from the same place but at least they are of a different design. Beningbrough Hall is identical. That, of course, means the National Trust hasn’t changed the design of it’s tea towels at Beningbrough Hall in a long while.
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum