The Victorian pleasure gardens have been expertly restored to their former glory, and are the perfect place for a family adventure in the fresh air, alright, but more on that in a minute.
For no other reason than this is about halfway between where SlyBob occasionally find themselves and where they ultimately need to be. It's also a chance to employ the principle of false profit by getting in for 'free' having been so beguiled by Belsay and joining the English Heritage™ club all them years ago.
Staring at some old toff from near Doncaster's furniture isn't normally Bob's idea of a good afternoon out but here has some spectacular gardening and, besides, it's nice to be somewhere that doesn't have links to the murky trade of slavery.
Oh! Hang on a minute...
The family's fortune was from finance and not from coal or cotton as you might expect in these parts. This was told to us a few years earlier and was shamefully accepted at face value but dig a little deeper and the truth isn't totally based in banking.
Peter 'Pete the Teller' Thellusson was from a line of Swiss merchant bankers and had a say, yay or nay, in the approval of loans to certain 'businesses' in the second half of the 1700s. When some of these 'businesses' defaulted, he took a controlling interest in the seized assets but these 'businesses' were often ferrying passengers to and tobacco from the Caribbean so Thellusson, himself, became directly involved and was no longer simply commercially complicit.
They're far more transparent about it, these days, and a temporary exhibition 'Liberty and Lottery' namechecks two of the ships with a wire-sculpture trail in the grounds and the highlighting indoors of household items with an, erm, dubious provenance.
This wouldn't have happened five years earlier, and it didn't, and the exhibition has since moved on to hopefully inform others elsewhere.
It's all about the gardens for this pair, well, that and the café, both being a relief from the road hogs on the A1. Some top topiary and stunning, floral displays are down to the dedicated work of head gardener Dan Hale and his small team of staff and variety of volunteers.
While these blooms outdo Belsay's, the quarry garden isn't quite on the same scale.
This delightful, dual-level diversion was created after they'd mined the limestone with which the house was built. The only downside is that the groundwork for all that can be seen was paid for out of Peter Thellusson's pocket and it's now known how he filled his piggy bank, eh?
All of this can be taken in from the Summer House, a faux-Doric temple with an elevated terrace from where Victorian Thellussons could be masters of all they surveyed.
That wouldn't yet include Woodlands, a model village for Brodsworth Colliery's workers and an operation that later Thellussons would have, what looks on the surface to be, a more charitable hand in.
Overlooked on this visit, but definitely there, definitely, is the Target House, an elaborate hut, really, erected in the style of a Swiss chalet. It would have been used by the family and their friends in which to take tea between taking turns at archery on the long lawn leading to it, as you do.
Requisitioned during World War II, a very different kind of target practice took place although it's not known if some errant sniping was the reason for the hut's later reconstruction. That is the reason for the Archery House's renaming, however, but as for the taking of tea in it? There's a perfectly good mansion no more than five minutes away man!
As for hall itself, don't be fooled by the flat roof and windows. This is a Victorian construction by one of Peter Thellusson's great-grandchildren and replaces an earlier, Georgian effort, for no other reason than they thought they could, presumably.
With most of the gardens already covered that just leaves the lawns of the formal garden and there's quite a covering today. It was thought the car park was busy and it soon becomes clear that there's a turn on by a brass band from Barnsley, junior division.
Very stirring is the brass, second only to the bagpipe, so it looks like SlyBob will be hanging around for a wee while. They open with a couple of classical crossovers, which aren't going down great with the crowd, and there might be some paraphrasing but something along these lines was definitely heard...
I 'ate it when they do new stuff. Do t'Floral Dance!
Floral dance? There's more than enough of that going up towards the Summer House pal!