Nunnington Hall has had a long architectural history. Most of the house appears to date from the late 17th century but records show that a house existed on the site for some centuries before.
The large manor house already had a long history before it became Crown property in the middle of the 16th century.
One of the occupants of the house after this time was Robert Huicke. He was physician successively to Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I.
It was Huicke that had the difficult task of telling the queen that she would never have children. Whilst renting the house from the Crown, Huicke was probably responsible for the Tudor work to the west side of the house.
During the Civil War Nunnington was badly damaged by the Parliamentarian troops garrisoned there.
Later, the house was restored by Richard Graham, 1st Viscount Preston, who inherited the estate in 1685. Lord Preston was Charles II's ambassador to Louis XIV and Master of the Wardrobe to James II. He was one of the five peers entrusted with the government of the country when James II fled in 1688.
He set out in a fishing boat in the hope of bringing the king back to England in triumph but was apprehended and taken to the Tower of London. Lord Preston was only saved from execution by the pleadings of his youngest daughter. Instead, the disgraced peer was stripped of his offices and retired to Yorkshire where he died in 1695.
Lord Preston spent much of his retirement remodelling the house and his well-proportioned south front is Nunnington's finest architectural feature.
The long, two-storey facade has projecting gables at either end. The doorway is classical and there are beautifully carved stone window surrounds.
Inside, the elegant rooms are decorated in typical late 17th century style with moulded panelling and the doorcases have broken pediments.
The grandest room is Lord Preston's oak hall which has an elaborate chimneypiece showing his coat of arms and those of his wife and a three-arched classical screen leading to the great oak and pine staircase, now hung with Flemish 17th century tapestries after designs by Rubens.
The drawing room is also the work of Lord Preston, with its 15th century French 'verdure' tapestries that he may have acquired whilst he was ambassador in Paris. A small room upstairs has two large ceiling canvases commissioned by Lord Preston depicting family coats of arms against a cloudy sky.
Adjoining one of the bedrooms in the west wing is a small oratory, a reminder of Lord Preston's adopted faith and his family's continued recusancy in the 18th century.
Most of the furniture, porcelain and paintings in the house were collected by the late Mrs Ronald Fife who left Nunnington Hall to the National Trust in 1952.
The Carlisle Collection of Miniature Rooms is housed in the attic, fully furnished in the styles of different periods.
To the south of the house is a charming walled garden, a rare survival from the 17th century and still has traces of the original formal layout.
Elsewhere in the grounds a lawn is cut to suggest the formal pattern of a parterre, and flanked by orchards that have been replanted with old varieties of fruit trees, including some pears and apples found only in Ryedale.