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A Trip to Crook Hall Gardens in Durham

A short walk from Durham’s city centre, lies a little secret garden and medieval hall. Now a National Trust property, I’ll guide you through a trip to Crook Hall Gardens

Crook Hall Gardens has been a long standing favourite of visitors to Durham for many years so it came as a shock to all when it was announced that the Hall & Gardens would be closing during Covid-19. Thankfully, in May 2022, National Trust saved the site and reopened it for all to enjoy.

Less than a ten minute walk from the heart of the city, Crook Hall Gardens are certainly one of the best things to do in Durham with the beautiful Georgian townhouse, 14th century Jacobean hall and perfectly formed gardens. Whilst my wife had regularly visited prior to its closure, even having afternoon tea in the townhouse, I had never visited and so in mid-2023 with our National Trust membership in hand, we nipped into Durham to enjoy a wander and a bite to eat.



The origins of Crook Hall Gardens dates back to at least the early 14th century when the medieval hall was built by Peter Del Croke. The Billingham family took ownership in 1372 and it remained in their family for nearly 300 years. It was subsequently sold through various different families who made additions over time to create the Crook Hall Gardens that we see today. It’s said that there have been many famous visitors to Crook Hall including William Wordsworth, Walter Scott and John Ruskin.


As soon as you step foot into Crook Hall Gardens you’ll see just how stunning and peacefully this location is considering we are just a stone’s throw from the bustling centre of Durham. There’s a hedge maze almost immediately at the start before you’ll find beautiful walled gardens filled with wildflowers, orchards, picnic areas, a pond and a little reading nook for the little ones. We visited with Evelyn and she loved strolling around the grounds.

At the moment, only the medieval hall is open to visitors whilst the townhouse is renovated. The hall is worth taking a few moments in to appreciate its grandeur and what life must have been like hundreds of years ago. You can also view the hall from upstairs for which you’ll need to prise yourself away from the second-hand bookshop. Evelyn had us looking all over for that perfect children’s book to add to her ever-expanding collection; she could probably open a library soon enough.

The best views can be found in the garden in front of the townhouse and you can see across to Durham Cathedral from certain spots around the entirety of Crook Hall Gardens. A nice reminder of just how close you are to the city itself.

If you’re hungry, head to the Garden Gate Café where you can sit inside or in the courtyard (you don’t have to pay to visit here either so anyone can visit) and enjoy scones, paninis, hot drinks and ice cream. The National Trust’s children’s meal deal is always a winner with plenty of choice for the little ones.


I know that National Trust sites generally cater for our four legged friends but I didn’t expect them to be happily welcomed to Crook Hall Gardens. As long as your dog is on a short lead, dogs are certainly welcome in the gardens and the café so there’s no excuse not to visit. There are plenty of water bowls around too. We left our cockapoo at home (honestly sometimes its easier when trying to deal with a toddler at the same time!) but now that we know Crook Hall Gardens are dog friendly, we will definitely return with him.


Crook Hall Gardens and the Café are open from 10am to 5pm all week long up until the 5th October 2023. The second-hand bookshop also closes at 3:30pm. Following 5th October 2023, everything is only open Friday to Sunday though the timings are the same.


Admission to Crook Hall Gardens is free for National Trust members or £8 for adults and £4 for children. Parking on-site is £3 for up to 3 hours (free for NT members).


You can park right outside Crook Hall Gardens for £3 (or free) and there were plenty of spaces when we visited shortly after opening. If you fancy incorporating a visit with taking in the sight of Durham, there are plenty of car parks across the city or you can easily wander the ten minutes or so along the River Wear from the centre if you’ve arrived by train. there are plenty of car parks in the centre of Durham from where you can walk. A little tip is that on-street parking across Durham is mostly free on a Sunday and it’s got to be my favourite day for a peaceful wander through the city and you can easily incorporate a trip here as well.


Crook Hall Gardens is just one example of just how beautiful the North East of England is. I promise you that it’s certainly not grim up north and there’s plenty more to see that will easily dispel that myth. Here are some ideas of places to visit in the North-East:

Weekend in Durham
Best Cafes in Durham
Finchale Priory
Marsden Rock

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this guide to Crook Hall Gardens and I’d love to know what you think if you do get chance to visit!


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