Mount Grace Priory, which is just outside Osmotherley in North Yorkshire, is one of those places I must have driven by a hundred times before deciding to finally visit (only to realise I’ve been missing out all these years).
What is it?
Set at the base of Cleveland Hills, which rise behind it, it’s a 14th-century priory managed by English Heritage and, according to their website, is the best preserved Carthusian priory in England. Set in beautiful grounds, it is quiet and peaceful and the perfect place to wander around before breaking open the picnic.
What can you do there?
Although the grounds don’t seem that large when you first pull up, they cover over 13 acres, meaning there is plenty to do once you’re there. This includes exploring the ruins and learning more about the very solitary lives of Carthusian monks; there is a reconstructed monks cell which shows just how they spent the majority of their lives – alone, working their small gardens or praying.
You can also explore the manor house, restored to how it looked in the 17th Century, when it was converted from the priory guest house. The house tells the story of the monks who lived there and the families that followed and gives a fascinating glimpse into the lives of both – plus there are some amazing William Morris designs to ogle over.
Finally, there are the gardens, which have recently been redesigned by garden designer and BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Chris Beardshaw. We were there just as the flowers were coming into bloom, showing a promise of what was to come.
What about the kids?
While there isn’t a playground/play area (something you find at a lot of English Heritage sites now), there were games in the garden like croquet to play and you can request an explorer pack, which includes a magnifying glass, binoculars and insect/animal spotter’s guide. My daughter loved it, chasing around after butterflies and bees to check them off the list and getting to know the names of plants scattered around the grounds.
All in all, it made for a fun, family day out, one I would highly recommend for anyone living in or heading to North Yorkshire.