IF THERE was ever a room in a stately home that I would want for myself, it has to be the drawing room at Nunnington Hall.

With its comfy sofas, huge fireplace and view to die for, I could move in today. It feels cosy and lived-in, which you cannot say about many country houses open to the public.

What a wonderful house to live in, beside the River Rye, with hills and woodland beyond. The occupants, from Tudor times through to present day, were lucky indeed.

Nunnington Hall was first mentioned in the 13th century. The present building, in mellow stone, is a combination of 17th and 18th-century work.

Its many different owners include William Parr, Dr Robert Huicke, Richard Graham, 1st Viscount Preston, the Rutson family and the Fife family.

It is the Fife family - the last permanent residents - whose presence is felt in the house. Nunnington Hall was inherited in 1920 by Rutson's great-niece Margaret Rutson, who had married Colonel Ronald D'Arcy Fife. They undertook a major renovation of the property in the 1920s using the architect Walter Brierley.

In 1952 Susan Clive (née Fife) gave Nunnington Hall and its gardens to the National Trust.

On entering the magnificent Stone Hall - the oldest part of the house - I immediately took against Colonel Fife, whose many hunting trophies adorn the walls. Big game shooting was, of course, more acceptable in those days, but it is upsetting to see magnificent beasts reduced to stretched skins on the wall.

Numerous antelope heads grace the opposite wall. The specimens, which include lion, tiger and rhinoceros, were shot in South Africa and India before the First World War.

Colonel Fife served in the war as a member of the 7th Battalion Green Howards. Excerpts from letters home to Margaret are both moving and shocking.

‘The dead of February 8th were still lying about the front making it impossible to bury them. We came in for a lot of shelling and had just been missed by a large chunk of shell when I heard another big one coming. It burst about five yards away, instantly killing poor Harper and smashing my left arm.’

The colonel’s collection of arms and armour can also be seen here.

Wandering through the beautifully-proportioned dining room and grand oak hall, we could smell home-baking from the tea room, sited in one of the rooms in the house. It was tempting to head off there, but there was so much more to see first.

On the way upstairs I grabbed a duster from a basket inviting people to ‘lend a hand’ in cleaning the grand staircase and balustrade. I loved the tapestries hanging at either side.

At the top of the stairs the drawing room, with its stunning view of the gardens and meadows beyond, awaits.

My friend Betty and I loved the bedrooms, with their fine four-poster beds. We particularly liked Mrs Fife’s bedroom (they had separate rooms with a connecting door), with a silk negligee draped over the chez longue, as though she had only just left.

I don’t know how the maids managed in their accommodation - their iron-framed beds are tiny.

The attic rooms contain the Carlisle Collection of miniature period rooms assembled by Londoner Kitty Carlisle between 1933 and 1970. These include a Queen Anne drawing room, Georgian bedroom and Adam music room. There is also a nursery, games room and greenhouse. An avid collector, she commissioned expert craftsmen to make rooms for her.

One criticism - the well-stocked shop is in the attic rooms, with no access for those who have restricted mobility. It seemed as odd choice of location.

But we loved the tea room, ordering home-made scones and tea before heading out to admire the gardens.

There’s a lovely organic vegetable patch, where you can sit and while away an hour in peace and quiet. Or watch the activity at the bird feeding station.

A bonus came in the shape of three baby peacocks, pecking around with their mum.

With friendly, helpful staff on hand to answer questions, it’s a lovely place for a day out.

*Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, North Yorkshire YO62 5UY. The hall is situated on the A170 Helmsley to Pickering road; it is 21 miles north of York, via B1363. Parking is free.

For more details and opening times visit nationaltrust.org.uk/nunnington-hall Tel: 01439 748283