Wydale Hall, near Snainton, the York Diocese’s retreat and conference centre, has been hailed as a haven for people seeking to escape from stressful lives by The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
Visiting the imposing former country mansion to mark its 60th anniversary celebrations, Dr Sentamu said: “I get as much out of coming to Wydale as I do out of going to York Minster.
“It should be used as many people as possible because of its setting. It is an oasis for those who want to study and enjoy quiet from their busy lives.
“This house is a wonderful place in a very busy world, somewhere where people can reflect on their lives.”
Dr Sentamu said it was being used by an increasing number of young people and for corporate events because of its location with panoramic views amid rolling meadows.
“It is an amazing place,” he added, “almost a Garden of Eden!”
He praised the Friends of Wydale Hall and the York Diocesan authorities for ensuring its continued success.
The chairman of the hall’s management committee, the Ven Paul Ferguson, said: “People using it, appreciate quiet and find it is somewhere special. In these days of increasing pressure on our lives there is a big need for such places as Wydale.”
While it hosts many conferences for religious groups it has also become a centre for a number of non-religious organisations and companies, says the manager, Barry Osborne, a former hotel manager, hotel inspector and chef.
“It is a unique place in the York Diocese and has become increasingly popular especially as we have bedroom accommodation for up to 60 people.”
Wydale Hall was built around 1780 for the Cayley family, whose ancestor, Sir George Cayley was an aeronautical engineer responsible for the first manned flight which happened in nearby Brompton Dale in 1853. Later sold to the Illingworth family in the 1900s, it became a hospital during the First World war, while in the 1939-45 war it was used as base for the Northumberland Hussars.