TERRY’S Chocolate Orange is one of the most popular Christmas stocking surprises.

The iconic treat was created by the famous confectionery company in 1932 and has stood the test of time along with Terry’s All Gold chocolates, also dating from the early 1930s.

That’s as much as most people will know about Terry’s, which operated from its Chocolate Works factory in York from 1926 until it closed in 2005. The vast complex now houses luxury apartments and a residential care village.

But, not far away lies a grand house that owes its existence to the Terry family and their once mighty confectionary empire.

The Grade l-listed home of Noel Goddard Terry, who retired from the family business in 1970 after 59 years service, has long been regarded as one of York’s hidden gems. In its leafy setting, the Arts and Crafts-style house lies on the northern edge of York Racecourse, in sight of the factory, with its distinctive clock tower, on the opposite side of the course

Designed by local architect Walter Brierley - known as the Yorkshire Lutyens - and built in 1927, Goddards was Noel’s family home until 1980, when it was acquired by the National Trust as its Yorkshire regional office.

The beautiful gardens, designed by George Dillistone, opened to visitors in 2006, with the house opening six years later, allowing the story of its illustrious previous owner, his family, and their famous chocolate factory, to be told.

Noel Terry, who died in 1980 aged 91, was the great-grandson of Sir Joseph Terry, the first Terry of the business. He had four children with wife Kathleen - Peter, Kenneth, Betty and Richard. The name of the house comes from Noel’s middle name, that of his grandmother Frances Goddard.

Looking around, pictures and photograph albums paint a picture of an idyllic childhood for the youngsters - like a Famous Five-style existence, having fun and camping in the gardens.

‘We had camp beds and slept under the stars protected by our Cairn terrier Tim,’ Peter recollects: ‘In the morning we would wake up to find our bedding bedecked with dew and Miss Fry would hand out tea from a Thermos and ginger biscuits of which Tim received a share.’

The horse-loving family did not attend the races, but on race days, they would set up chairs to soak up the atmosphere while the children rode hobby horses. Afterwards, the youngsters would go to the racecourse to find dropped pennies.

Although the house was built in the Arts and Crafts style the family furnished it mainly with Georgian furniture, which was donated to Fairfax House, a Georgian property in York, open to the public.

It is shame there is no original furniture, but the National Trust has created an interesting interior with a mix of 1930s-influenced styles. Photographs of how the rooms really did look are on display.

Unlike in most National Trust houses, visitors can sit on the sofas and armchairs in the drawing room and flick through books and photograph albums, as though it were their own home, giving a flavour of what it would have been like to live there.

The drawing room has an unusual barrel-vaulted ceiling similar to that which Brierley had in his own home. I must admit, it wasn’t to my taste.

Items on show include bills for work on the house. Amazingly, the whole property cost £25,980 to build, that’s around £1,570,000 in today’s money.

There is also correspondence sent from Noel as he fought in the First World War where he was wounded at the Battle of the Somme. In the Second World War his son Kenneth served in the RAF and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1942. He died in 1944 and is commemorated on the local war memorial.

A playroom allows visitors to play the piano and play games the family may have played including dominoes and bagatelle.

Upstairs, where well-informed volunteer guides are on hand to answer questions, there is a superb model of Terry’s factory built in the 1950s by apprentices, as well as a film of the day in 1937 when King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth visited Terry’s.

One of the vast rooms in the complex housed the typing pool. A nice touch in the house is the inclusion of an old-fashioned typewriter on which visitors can type any memories they may have of Terry’s. I’d gone along with my friend, also called Betty, aged 90, who remembered Noel and Peter as members of a local golf club where she lived with her parents.

Of the four Terry children, only Betty (now Betty Lawrie) is still alive, aged 94. As you explore the house you come across stories and quotes from the nonagenarian, sharing memories of family games, wartime events and business news.

Photographs show the many sporting activities which both the Terry family and staff at the factory enjoyed. I was pleased to see a women’s football team among the staff photos.

Chocolate boxes from previous decades are also on show.

Outside, you step on to the terrace to a feast of colour. A long lavender border is a wonderful sight, alive with bees and butterflies. Other borders add more colour, especially the lovely clarey sage with its pastel blooms. In another area, ponds are home to water lilies and dragonflies.

Visitors are encouraged to have a game of tennis on the grass courts - racquets and balls are provided - or try their hands at croquet. The views towards the racecourse from the orchard are spectacular. To end the visit, we sat on the terrace to enjoy tea and home-baked scones. The wood panelled tea room, formerly the family dining room, is equally pleasant.

Parking during the week is limited as the house is also used by National Trust office staff, but there are places to park nearby and buses run regularly along Tadcaster Road from the city centre, York Railway Station and from the nearby Tesco.

Goddards, 27 Tadcaster Road, York YO24 1GG; visit nationaltrust.org.uk/goddards T: 01904 771930