Duncombe is particularly special for its grounds, including a National Nature Reserve, woodland etched with walking trails, a yew tree tunnel and level terraces with sweeping views over the Rye valley, dotted with classical temples. There’s even a scented ‘secret garden’, which made it an ideal filming location for the new The Secret Garden (2020) film adaptation, starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters – the 450-acre estate stood in for the fictional Misselthwaite Manor, where protagonist Mary Lennox gets sent to live with her uncle.
Duncombe Park sits on the outskirts of the lovely Georgian market town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire, and other scenes from The Secret Garden were filmed at the nearby Helmsley Walled Garden. Duncombe’s grand 18th-century house has also proved a popular filming location for period drama productions including Victoria (S2 & 3, ITV), Parade’s End (BBC One) and feature films The Thirteenth Tale and Dad’s Army.
The manor house itself is usually off-limits to visitors (look out for events such as antiques fairs, where you can get a look in), but the parklands are open to all. Duncombe is also the site of the National Centre for Birds of Prey, an award-winning visitor attraction that houses the largest collection of birds of prey in the North of England.