The peerless view from the Red Bedroom at Sutton Park is a far cry from the one witnessed by the first aristocrat in Sir Reginald Sheffield’s family, who was embroiled in the fifth crusade as a Knight’s Templar, fighting amid dust and carnage in a bid to recapture Jerusalem.

Since then the family has continued to play a part in civic and court life. Some as Deans, Treasurers and Sheriffs of York; others as sea captains and soldiers; one even became Speaker of the House of Commons.

And Sir Reginald’s daughter, Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, is perhaps better known as the wife of Prime Minister David Cameron. Word is that Samantha wasn’t too impressed at the thought of moving in to 10 Downing Street, so she’s probably glad of a weekend break at her father’s stunning stately home.

Sir Reginald, the 8th Baronet Sheffield and a direct descendant of Charles II, lives with his wife, Lady Victoria, at Sutton Park, eight miles north of York, which has been the family home since 1963.

It’s also a repository for their fine collection of eighteenth century furniture and paintings. Many were collected by John Sheffield, the 1st Duke of Buckingham, for his London home, Buckingham House, which later became the monarchy’s residence.

Sutton Park was built in 1730 by York architect Thomas Atkinson, who is best known for remodelling the gatehouse and façade at Bishopthorpe Palace. The mellow brick house is a fine example of early Georgian architecture and sits in eight acres of award-winning gardens. Inside is a significant collection of Meissen and Chelsea porcelain, together with furniture of national importance.

Ceilings feature Rococo plasterwork by stuccoist Giuseppe Cortese, whose powerful and symbolic work can also be seen in York’s Fairfax House. It makes a stunning feature in the hall and library and is counterpointed by the delicate simplicity of the Boudoir.

With blood as blue as his son-in-law’s party flag, Sir Reginald is the epitome of an aristocrat. Straight-talking, charming and utterly engaging, he speaks fondly of the room.

“It was designed by my mother when she came to the house in the mid ‘Sixties and the fireplace came from another family house we own, Normanby Park in Lincolnshire. The chandelier I got from an antiques dealer in London who was obviously going through hard times and I bought it for hardly anything.”

Over the fireplace is a painting of Lady Sheffield, the wife of Sir Charles, by Highmore. Much of the furniture in The Boudoir is French, including a delightful marquetry bureau and pair of gilded chairs.

This is a wonderfully light room and despite its size, incredibly cosy. No wonder it was Sir Reginald’s mother’s favourite.

The Library, however, is his preferred den and the bookcases house a collection of important tomes, not to mention priceless photographs of his daughter and the Prime Minister.

And like the rest of Sutton Park, this room is not just a showcase of fine furniture and exquisite adornments. It’s where Sir Reginald watches TV, where he reads the paper, where he sits at his desk to catch up on a mountain of paperwork.

The walls in the charming Tea Room were decorated in the eighteenth century to represent tortoiseshell and ivory. Dominating the room is Gainsborough’s flamboyant painting of Sophia Sheffield. But all is not as it seems.

“It is a copy because my grandmother sold the original to the Rothschilds without the trustees knowing,” says Sir Reginald. “Anyway, Bill Gates has developed a system for copying paintings and Lord Rothschild agreed to let me make a copy.

“A picture of it was taken with a special camera and the result is rather extraordinary. It has been printed on canvas and you can even see all the paint marks. Nobody that has seen it has said it’s a fake.”

Above the fireplace is a painting by Holbein of Sir Robert Sheffield and in the top left corner is the family coat of arms. Sir Robert was speaker of the House of Commons during the reign of Henry VIII. He was incarcerated in the Tower of London by Cardinal Wolsey – and he died there. So incensed were the Sheffields that the death began a tradition of the family siding with Parliament against the church, and indeed, the King.

Japanese Imari porcelain adorns the other walls, while a pair of restrained Chippendale carvers sit unassumingly at the mahogany table, which again is festooned with family photographs. Sir Reginald points out the rare wallpaper, dating from 1800, that hangs in the Chinese Drawing Room. Taking centre stage is a chandelier which, he explains, came from Marlborough House in London, and a fine Adam fireplace. The Queen Anne walnut bureau on the north wall and the remarkable Charles II lacquer cabinet were originally in Buckingham House and are of national importance.

“We need to keep the drawers closed in here because of the sun, and there are protective screens on most of the windows to protect fabrics and furniture. When the house isn’t open for viewing all the rooms are all closed with the shutters drawn.”

The award-winning gardens are stunning; a mix of Edwardian fernery and rare plants with a lily pond that makes a peaceful place to sit beside.

Originally two terraces flanked the south side of the house, but the present gardens were planned by Sir Reginald and created with help from Percy Cane.

The pair incorporated a large amount of parkland into the formal gardens, including a large cedar of Lebanon tree which immediately gave the area maturity.

Sir Reginald and his dog lead the way across the lawn to a third terrace which was added as a formal water garden and offers one of the best views of the house.

From there we stroll into a semi-wild glade leading to the Temple Walk before taking a shady path from the front of the house past a Georgian ice-house to the organic vegetable plot, of which he is very proud.

To cap it all, behind the crops an adjacent walled garden is home to about a dozen magnificent birds of prey which can be seen in all their glory during afternoon displays.

Sutton Park has been put together with great panache by Sir Reginald and Lady Sheffield to make a grand but inviting stately home. But despite a life-long passion for items of beauty, he thinks his collection is probably about complete.

“We do keep on buying things, my mother was an antiques dealer and I’m also interested in antiques. But the problem now is that we don’t have anywhere to put anything else.”