Goddards House and Garden: Exploring 250 Years of Terry’s Confectionary History

by eHeritage Blogazine
December 9, 2021 | 6 min read

Goddards House and Garden: Exploring 250 Years of Terry’s Confectionary History

I have very fond memories of growing up in York. Although I wasn’t hugely interested in the past back then, I was aware of York’s historical significance. We were lucky to have had two operational chocolate factories. What was great was that when the wind blew the right way you could smell sweet chocolate wafting accross the city. It was quite magical. Today Rowntrees still stands, albeit smaller and now owned by Nestle. Terry’s however has been committed to history with the company moving operations abroad a number of years back. What now stands in it place is a block of swanky appartments and unnafordable premium houses.

Part of the Terry’s legacy still remains however in the form of Goddards House and gardens. You could easily miss it if you didn’t know it was there. In fact, I drove past it daily on my way in to college and never knew what stood behind the impressive gatehouse, accessible from Tadcaster Road. I had been meaning to visit Goddard’s for the last few years so back in April I took the opportunity to make a visit and catch up with my mum and dad. I took my daughter Oaklie too.

Except for a few disabled bays, there is unfortunately no parking at Goddards. It’s no real issue however as there is plenty of on-street parking close by. We parked on Knavesmire Road and walked across the common to Tadcaster Road. On arrival the first thing you see if the impressive gatehouse. This used to house the family chauffeur but is seemingly not open to the public today. What follows is a beautiful tree lined driveway which takes you right up to the front of the house. It’s quite impressive.

The house itself is not particularly old, having only been built in 1927 for York based chocolate tycoon Noel Terry and his wife Kathleen. The beautiful red brick building became home to the Terry’s and their four children and was occupied by the family up until it passed into National Trust ownership in 1984. Interestingly the property was initially intended to be used as Trust offices but in 2006 the gardens were opened to the public with the house following in 2012.

As much of the original furnishings were removed from the house, and displayed at another location in York, what remains is perhaps a shadow of its former self. That’s not to say the interiors aren’t impressive, but if your hoping for flamboyance and grandeur you might be disappointed. The house is intended really as an exhibition for the history of the Terry’s family and the famous business. The displays dotted around the house are really fascinating and for someone who grew up in York I felt as though I really should have know a little more about the history. It’s not huge inside and other than original usable toilets downstairs and upstairs (you might be waiting a while) the rest of the house is taken up by the cafe.

After having a good mooch around the house we decided to get lunch, something we always do when visiting such properties. I am a big fan of National Trust food and the coffee is quite excellent. I think a buss load of tourists had just beat us to the cafe, but one of the attendants took pity on us and showed us into a private summer house come dining room outside, with stunning views of the gardens. I had quiche with new potatoes and it was excellent. Unfortunately there was literally one bottle of beer left in the whole building so my dad nabbed that. He dad had sausage and mash which he thought was the best thing since sliced bread. My mum had the same as me. Oaklie had something from everyone which is standard procedure!

After leaving our private dining room we made our way into the gardens. To be honest the gardens are the real reason why many people come to Goddards. They are quite the hidden Oasis and are surprisingly huge, not to mention stunning! I particularly liked the rock garden which had an almost Asian feel to it. As we visited in Spring the gardens were coming into bloom and there were loads of colours everywhere. The gardens are actually divided into ‘rooms’ and have supposed to be an extension to the house. Moreover, the gardens were designed to be enjoyed by the family and their guests and not just adored from a distance.

I felt like I could have been Noel Terry, stood proud all those years ago, watching the family business grow wondering what the future might hold.

You will find a tennis lawn and bowling green and you can even try your hand at Croquet. The latest outdoor addition is a fragrant garden, built to original plans. Of course, no home is complete without its own kitchen garden, and Goddard’s is no exception!

The gardens slope down from the house and looks out over the Knavesmire. What is particularly moving is that you can see right across to the original factory clock tower which still stands as part of the new residential development. I felt like I could have been Noel Terry, stood proud all those years ago, watching the family business grow wondering what the future might hold. It would certainly be a great place to view the horse racing!

The gardens at Goddard’s are stunning and among some the most beautiful in Yorkshire. They just seem to go on for ever and it’s difficult to explain their scale. Whilst the exhibition’s within the house are interesting, I certainly found the gardens to be of more interest and would not necessarily feel obliged to enter the house when I visit again. That said, I do want to learn more about the Terry’s and could do with some time to myself to absorb the various exhibition’s at own pace.

If you are in York, or planning on visiting, then Goddards house and gardens should be high on your list of things to do. The personal stories of love and heartbreak, captured within the red bricked walls will leave a lasting impression, and the beautiful gardens will really impress.

Entry to Goddards house and gardens costs £7.40 for adults and and £3.70 for kids. National Trust members get in for free.

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I’m Mikey Holden. I have a real passion for historical places. I’ve always loved visiting colossal houses and castles, daydreaming about the schemes that have been thought up within their walls, keen to discover the stories waiting to be told. I am a heritage travel blogger with a simple mission: To discover, explore and photograph historical places in Yorkshire and beyond.

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