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Normanby Park Hall
Scunthorpe in General
Member Name: Celandine
Scunthorpe in General
Date: 06/06/01, updated on 06/06/01 (1142 review reads)
Advantages: It's a Park, near Scunthorpe, with ducks
Disadvantages: If you don't like parks, or are scared of ducks, you may not like it
I've always loved parks. Proper town parks, with neat flower beds, crazy paving and aviaries have a real appeal to me. I think it may have been because I was brought up in the depths of the countryside, so I was used to bluebell woods, and ploughed fields where you have to teeter along a minute space left as a 'public right of way' by the farmer. In my childhood, if you went anywhere, you took wellies, and I invariably ended up beestung, nettled and sitting on a thistle. Going to a park was a real treat. There were swings, and statues buried in undergrowth. If I was really lucky, there was crazy golf!
Much later, living in the country again I find my tastes have gone full circle, and I happily teeter, with wellies, round fields that make me sneeze. But I still wanted to find a proper park. There's just something about proper parks, especially if you've an independent toddler in tow who cares nothing for trampled crops, and thinks jumping in cowpats is the greatest game ever invented.
Now, I live in Lincolnshire, so I had a good look around. There's a nice park in Lincoln, yes, and we go there a lot. There's a park in Gainsborough, which I love for it's overgrown fifties crazypaving in the shape of flowers, so we go there too. But I think, I really do, that I've found the nicest park yet. So I'm going to tell you all about it, because it really is a nice place to visit on a sunny day with a toddler and a squishy picnic ( grumpy husbands optional).
Normanby Hall Country Park. This is situated just outside of Scunthorpe, in North Lincolnshire, and is run by North Lincolnshire Council. I'll do all the tedious 'how to get there' bits at the end of the op. According to my husband, Scunthorpe has the worst road signs he's ever seen, so you may need them if you don't want to sail merrily around industrial estates for hours.
Normanby park was the rural home of the Sheffield famil
y, who also owned Buckingham Palace. We're talking serious wealth here, which shows in the scale of the Hall and the Park. There are 300 acres to explore here, including a huge deer park.
When you arrive, there's ample carparking space, all nicely tarmacked. All those sort of dull things are present and correct throughout. You pay on entry to the carpark. I'll tell you all the prices later. The first thing we saw was a peacock, strolling nonchalantly across a lawn in front of us. Peacocks are conspicuous for their absence in most council-run parks, so that was our first treat. There are a lot of them around in Normanby Park, casually draped over flower borders and the like, and they let you get quite close. Not quite so close that a toddler can grab a tail feather, but she nearly did.
You enter into a courtyard (the stable block) where we saw ponies being led around by various children. This is partly a riding club, and you can't get close to the ponies, but it's relaxing to watch all that frantic grooming activity anyway. There were also some old coaches on display. If you like old coaches, then you'll probably find these fascinating. I found them interesting, and amongst them is a lovely old red horse-drawn fire engine. Eat your heart out, Sam.
Walk through the courtyard and you enter the park proper. There's a drive that sweeps around to this beautiful old regency house, all yellow stone and portico'd entrance. And there's a lawn. Not a teensy little bit of grass dotted with little circles of flower beds, but a huge great expanse of grass, complete with daisies, and happily lacking in thistles. When we went, the lawn was also decorated by families, not so many as to make it sardined, but just the right amount of people throwing balls around, and snogging, and having picnics. There were still lots of trees left for us to find a nice shady space to picnic, and there was plenty to watch.
ever find the time to read when we go to a park. Toddler happily roams free, under a semi-watchful eye, and I sit under a tree with my book. There's no litter, no dog dirt, and all the people I've met there have been really nice. So toddler wanders off to watch someone else's game of cricket, and I sit there with her sandwiches, just fondly watching, and thinking how lovely she is when she's happy.
Picnic over, we go to feed the ducks. In the middle of this enormous lawn there's an equally enormous duckpond, with enormous ducks to match. There are loads of them, mainly Mallards, but also some of that big white variety. There are ducklings there, too, at the moment.
So we wander past the huge pond, past a little weir, and into a wooded bit of the park. There aren't any paths in this bit. Here, it's all cool and shady, and you suddenly feel like this is an exploration. The trees get closer together, and you come across huge rhododendron bushes, and incredibly ancient trees. You come to various clearings, where, I know, if I was eight, I'd have had a grand old time playing various 'pretend' games.
In the midst of this bit is a little cemetary. A 'pet' cemetary, where all the animals loved by the Sheffield family from about 1840-1890 have been buried. If you've a sentimental turn of mind, you may love this. I tend to hate it. I think of all the children dying, during that particular time, in industrial towns located around this park, and I blench that amidst all this human disaster, the rich and privileged were putting up pretty headstones for their ponies. That's just me, though.
I must hurry along now, because I haven't even touched on a third of this park yet (blench, dear reader, blench). We come out of the woody bit the other side of the pond, past a sculpture of the :
"Look at the pretty tiger"
"No....that's a rabbit"
's that on it then?"
" I think it's a mouse"
variety. There's another little bit of woodland, with bluebells, and a proper path, with a little field full of peacocks next to it. Then you enter the Walled Garden.
The first bit of this is all flowers. It's owned by the Royal Horticultural Society. I'm not a gardener, but my Mother is, so I'll give you her verdict:
"Oh yes, superb planting, darling, but then I was expecting that from the RHS"
Forgive her, she's a member, and knows about these things. All I can tell you is that it looks very pretty. Once you've gone through that, you enter the Victorian Vegetable Garden. This is just plain lovely. It is what it says, a vegetable garden, full of pristine rows of beans and peas, with espaliered fruit trees along all the walls. It's manned by gardeners dressed like victorian gardeners, and is a true recreation of how the vegetable garden used to be when the Sheffield's lived in the Hall. Then, fresh produce was demanded on the table at all times, and so we see the peach house, and two greenhouses, dedicated to providing out of season delicacies, even in the inclement weather conditions of the North East. The gardeners used to send produce down to London, and it took 27 of them to man the garden. This is a beautiful garden, and entering it is like walking into a period illustration.
We go through the fern house, through the geranium green house, and in to the back buildings, where the offices and cookhouse of these victorian gardeners are re-created. The re-creations aren't that great, but it is interesting, and all the staff I met (one gardener, and a 'victorian' cook) were very nice indeed.
We exit the walled garden into a little playpark, with swings and things. Baby daughter is very asleep by now, so she doesn't go on these particular swings, but they look fine. There's all the u
sual 1950's park things here, like a little ride-on lamb, and a metal seesaw, but the floor is nice and modern. No 'ouchy' knees.
Out of this and you're back into the main park bit, in front of the house. If you haven't brought a picnic and you're feeling hungry, then there's a cafe in the stable block. This is clean, friendly, and incredibly cheap. The food is fine, but certainly nothing special, but quiche, chips and a salad costs only £3.50, and a huge slice of carrot cake is 85p. There is plenty of room, there are highchairs, should you need them, and the loos are very clean. One major plus ( I think) is that both the ladies' and mens' toilets have baby changing facilities within. Yes, I went into the men's loo to look. It's just me. I rate loos wherever I go. These got 8/10. Very clean, but basic. No frills ( I like a bit of perfume and some nice pink tissues, but then I'm picky).
I promise that I'm nearly finished now. You head out of the stables, and if you like, there's a little train ride to go on. This is all run by model railway club volunteers, and so is only open on Sundays and BH Mondays. Rides cost 10p. Yes, that's 10p. And it looks really fun. Little steam trains and things.
Past the train ride there's a shop, which is nice, but full of the sort of thing you'd expect - novelty bookmarks and the like. It does have a nice selection of children's books, though, some vegetable seeds, and some plants that my mother sniffed at. Past the shop there's another little playground area, but this one is more modern in feel.
You thought I'd finished? Well, nearly. There are three things that I haven't really explored in this park (I bet you're relieved). One is the Deer Park, which is currently closed due to Foot and Mouth precautions, another is the farm museum, which I shall visit, and report on, when we go on a rainy day. I haven't me
ntioned the house, as I'm writing this on the park, but the house is well worth a look. It has a costume collection, hosts differing art exhibitions, and displays various 'period' rooms.
One last thing. The Park runs 'themed' days. These range from 'Teddy Bear Trails' to 'Poetry in the Park'. There is a free craft workshop for children most Sundays between 2-4. The RHS also run lots of special events called things like "Annuals in the Summer Border". I just never have time to go. I'm too busy sitting in the park watching my baby daughter roam happily around, and reading a book.
So there you go. Normamby Park. I know that I've gone on, but it is a lovely place to visit. Like I said at the start, I'm a park addict. I met my very first proper boyfriend in a park, during an 'Australia' themed event. He wasn't a tall, bronzed Australian, but he was a surfer. Short, Welsh, and with with a toned, muscular back to kill for. Just thinking about it makes my legs go wobbly. I want to end up as one of those old ladies you see in parks. Sipping my tea, and staring at a floral display. I bet they aren't thinking about the bedding plants either.
Prices and how to get there follow:
Adults £3.50, Concessions £2.50, Family £9.50
If you live in N. Lincolnshire you can get a discount card that lets you in for £1.00. We've bought a season ticket for £20.00 that lets us in free all year.
How to get there:
Normanby Hall Country Park can be found on the B1430 4 miles to the North of Scunthorpe. The easiest way to reach the B1430 is to travel along the M180, turn off onto the M181 (signposted Scunthorpe), carry on along the road and turn left at the roundabout with the Peugeot garage on your left and the Rover garage on your right. (Courtesy of grumpy Husband).
If you want more details, the phone number listed in my leaf