Chocolate is a passion of mine. I’m an incurable chocoholic. But for one family in York it has been the source of their wealth and fortune for over a century.
Goddards in York was once the home of the Terry family who are best known for their world-famous Chocolate Oranges, Twilight and All Gold chocolate boxes.
Rarely a Christmas went by at our house in the 1980s without Terry’s confectionery being offered around as a seasonal treat.
So a trip to the Terry’s York house proved to be interesting in more ways than one. It also provided proof that chocolate can be big business.
Driving up to Goddards it would be easy to miss this hidden gem. It’s hard to imagine that a large house and gardens lie behind the impressive brick entrance on a busy main road running out of York city centre.
Fifteen years ago my parents lived around the corner but I never ever noticed what lay behind the rustic facade, probably because the main house is obscured from view.
Goddards only opened to the public in summer 2013 so I was intrigued to see what I’d been missing all these years.
As you drive along the private road up to the house, it’s a surprise to see a striking red-brick Arts and Crafts style house coming into view.
Designed by architect Walter Brierley, it is reminiscent of William Morris’ Red House, another classic Art and Crafts home.
In his day Brierley was known as “the Yorkshire Lutyens” with his designs being characterised by their rustic elegance and homely style.
Goddards is more country manor than city dwelling. It was a bolt hole for the family, just far enough from the Terry’s nearby chocolate factory on the other side of York Racecourse.
The house is a livable and cosy family home rather than a palatial mansion. You can almost imagine living here yourself.
Everywhere there are signs of the family’s chocolate business including the designs of old boxes of confectionery and posters from the 1930s.
The Chocolate Orange is the most famous of the Terry’s confectionery lines. First launched in 1931, it was made in York for 70 years. Noel Terry made his name introducing the Orange to the British public.
When food giants Kraft took over the Terry family business in 1993, it promised to keep production in York.
But it wasn’t long before Kraft went back on that promise. In 2005 it switched production to Poland with other Terry’s brand names being moved to Kraft factories in Belgium and Slovakia.
Today the Chocolate Orange is made in Eastern Europe. An important part of York’s industrial heritage has been lost.
I’d been wondering why they don’t taste as good as they used to. Perhaps they’re using a different recipe? Or may be it’s just a false sense of nostalgia for the orangey chocolate treat?
Modern tastes in chocolate have become more sophisticated and expensive over the last decade but the Terry’s Orange remains a firm favourite.
So it’s great so see that the menu in Goddards’ cafe includes a Terry’s Chocolate Orange cake!
Goddards is essentially a family house. Entrepreneur Noel Terry lived here with his wife Kathleen and four children between 1928 and 1980.
Out on the garden terrace you can sit and take in the atmosphere of a 1930s house where the adults sipped their refreshing gin and tonics on a hot summer’s day.
Today, you can do the same, complete with blankets on a chilly spring lunchtime.
Inside the house, you can see how the family lived and went about their daily routines.
In a small wing you can enter the world of a 1930s child with an interactive exhibition of kids’ games in the old playroom.
Upstairs there’s a fascinating exhibition about the history of Terry’s chocolates. I loved the idea that the company started as Terry and Berry, a great rhyming name if I ever heard one!
The name was later abbreviated to Terry. In its heyday in 1867 under chocolate magnate, Joseph Terry, the York factory employed hundreds of people and made 400 confectionery products.
One of my favourites in the 1980s was the short-lived Pyramint, popular for a short time. It was designed to look like an Egyptian pyramid and tomb made from dark chocolate with a minty centre.
Another was the luxurious 1767 Chocolate Assortment with drawers of chocolates – which only made an appearance when posh friends were visiting.
The Terry’s Factory boasted a distinctive clock tower and Art Deco architectural style. You could even see the tower from the gardens at Goddards at one time although trees now obscure the view.
In fact, Noel Terry used to walk to work from his back garden across the racecourse to the chocolate factory every day. There’s not many business men that would walk to work today!
Terry’s confectionery became a household name with shops and even a cafe in York city centre. At one time there was also a Chocolate Apple which pre-dated the famous Orange.
During World War II the factory was used to make aeroplane propellers, but then reverted to chocolate production once the war ended.
Today the old factory lies empty whilst plans to refurbish it for housing and commercial developments take shape. It’s sad but I guess that it’s a sign of the times. Chocolate production is now a global business.
A house for living in
Goddards is a modest affair but it makes for an enjoyable trip, not least because it’s unlike most National Trust properties which tend to be grander and more palatial.
This is a house that was made for living in rather than a place to show off. It’s about a family quietly demonstrating their wealth rather than flaunting it.
This was also a working house as reflected in the ground floor study where Noel Terry would go about his business for the company.
There’s some fascinating documents and photographs on the large desk in the centre of the room.
I wondered if the great confectionery magnate ever nibbled on a Chocolate Orange whilst he was working but I felt too stupid to ask anyone!
Goddards is all about 1930s style so don’t miss the splendid downstairs dining room which is now a cafe and restaurant. Stop by for a coffee and cake, as we did, to soak up the authentic atmosphere.
But it’s the upstairs rooms that perhaps provide us with the best clues about the family and how they lived when they were at Goddards.
Noel Terry’s son, Peter, was sporty and a wander into his bedroom takes you back to the time when he was a keen cricketer and tennis player.
Peter had all the benefits of a wealthy upbringing. He was educated at Marlborough and Cambridge before returning to York, where he spent his working life in the family firm.
He lived through dramatic changes in the confectionery industry at a time when the firm changed hands five times. But here at Goddards we learn more about the man behind the business.
Next door, there’s a poignant reminder that even wealthy families like the Terry’s were not immune from the horrors of war.
Noel Terry had narrowly cheated death at the Battle of the Somme in the First World War when a bullet hit him in the thigh. Fortunately, his silver cigarette case took the hit and saved his life.
But Noel’s son, Kenneth, wasn’t so lucky. He served in the RAF during the Second World War. Tragically, he was killed in action when he was just 23 years old.
His room has been kept almost as it was when he left for his military service.
Goddards’ crowning glory are its gardens which start coming alive in the spring and come into full bloom in the summer.
In their heyday, the main gardens would have been backed by tennis and croquet courts. There are a relaxing series of spaces designed for chilling out rather than formal, showy and over-manicured gardens.
A wander down the garden takes you into a hidden wonder world as you disappear into a small wooded area with a charming rock garden, small ponds and walkways.
It must have been a small and calm oasis away from the city and a stone’s throw away from the Terry’s factory across the Knavesmire.
Today, it’s like walking back in time to the 1930s. I could almost hear the babble of voices and laughter of guests sitting drinking wine on the terrace in the distance.
Wandering around the gardens it’s almost like being one of the family. In fact the whole visit to Goddards feels very personal, helped by the friendly staff.
For a relaxing trip out, take yourself back to the 1930s with a touch of elegance and style at Goddards.
This is a house built on chocolate. A house fit for a chocolate magnate and his family. Perhaps it could even be the house where the Terry’s Chocolate Orange was first conceived?
Either way, indulge yourself with a trip to Goddards – and don’t forget the Chocolate Orange Cake!
Tammy’s travel tips
Goddards is located on the edge of York’s historic city centre in North Yorkshire on Tadcaster Road close to the Racecourse.
It’s about 30 minutes walk from York city centre although the number 4, 844 and 12 buses will take you there from outside the Marriott Hotel in York city centre.
Goddards is open Wednesday-Sundays plus Bank Holiday Mondays. Car parking is located next to the house.
There’s an admission fee but National Trust members go free.
You can also visit the cafe and terrace (for free) for a drink and cake if you don’t want to take a trip around the house.
If you’re interested in the history of the old Terry’s Factory as it is today, take a trip to the other side of York racecourse.
A trip to Goddards only takes an hour or two so why not combine it with one of York’ other visitor attractions.
My top York recommendations are the National Railway Museum, Clifford’s Tower, Jorvik and the Castle Museum.
The Castle Museum in York city centre has a Terry’s archive and there’s also a reproduction sweet shop.