Coxwold, York YO61 4AD

Fill your sketch book in the gardens at Shandy Hall – a property rich with a history of literature and art, and gardens filled with beautiful planting and wildlife. It is located in the pretty village of Coxwold, situated in the North York Moors National Park, close to the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, approximately 19 miles north of York, midway between the market towns of Thirsk, Easingwold, and Helmsley.

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The wild gardens in early May. Image © Shandy Hall

In 1760, Laurence Sterne came to live in Coxwold as perpetual curate. He had already published the first two volumes of his influential novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, when he came to Coxwold and his friends celebrated his success as a writer by christening his new home ‘Shandy Hall’ (the word Shandy being a dialect word for ‘wild, crazy, odd, merry’).

The two-acre garden, which you will be studying for the day, is part cottage garden and part woodland garden, and incorporates a former stone quarry now known as the ‘Wild Garden’.

Shandy Hall gardens in spring. Image © Shandy Hall

The gardens are rich in wildlife habitats and are home to many creatures. Birds from kestrels to treecreepers, and small mammals such as stoats and squirrels can be seen. Over 450 species of moths have been recorded in the gardens, and a wide variety of insects, wild plants and fungi can be found.

Exploring the gardens also allows you to look at the exterior of Shandy Hall. Each prospect of the house is entirely different and reveals the changes it has undergone during its 600 year history.

Facilities: Toilet facility on site. Parking in village (limited parking on site for people with mobility issues). ‘Shandy Shop’ on site for second-hand books, plants, small antiques, bric-a-brac and Sterne-related souvenirs. Programme of exhibitions relating to Sterne (please see Shandy Hall website for programme)

Access info:  There are steps, with handrails, down into the wild garden, and by the toilet (though it can be reached from the car park side without steps). There may be some uneven and some slippery ground. The car park is gravelled. There is a flight of steps to the gallery.

Note that the house is only open at weekends – we will be working in the gardens.

Visit Shandy Hall’s website

Laurence Sterne. Drawing, c. 1789. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images / /

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