They flocked to a place called Hackfall near Masham. Turner came to paint it, and scenes from Hackfall were featured on the Green Frog Dinner Service commissioned by Empress Catherine the Great of Russia from Wedgwood & Bentley for one of her palaces in 1773.
Nowadays it's mainly just known to locals, although Dame Judi Dench recently named it one of her favourite woods.
It's possibly frequented by a whole host of other modern day celebrities but you'd never know because the woods are so big, with so many varied paths it's easy to completely escape the world.
For many years Hackfall was left unloved and neglected. Some of the buildings started to decay and the woods became denser and denser. Had this situation continued, we wouldn't have been able to enjoy today's Hackfall the way we do, but that period of leaving nature to grow over the original layout contributed to the magical feel.
This is why I'm certain teddy bears still go for picnics, undisturbed in their enjoyment of the sandy 'beach' area by the river, and countless spots for hide-and-seek. I'm pretty sure there are fairytale princesses still slumbering in other hidden spots, and Shrek definitely hunts out the wetter spots on his holidays in Hackfall.
Many of the follies and special features have grand names, implying they're larger than in reality. I love that they're sort of scaled down versions of what you might expect - it adds to the magic.
If you use the small car park on the Masham to Grewelthorpe road, the first thing you'll spot is the Banqueting House which is now known as the Ruin, managed by the Landmark Trust and let as a holiday cottage for two. It's a curious place to stay as the three remaining rooms don't interconnect so you have to go outside to get to the bedroom. It's open to the public during the Heritage Open Days in September.
Other features include the Rustic Temple, a welcome spot to rest and enjoy the views. Fishers's Hall is one of our favourite spots, a small but imposing building said to have once been used for sumptuous picnics and woodland dinners. Ancient pictures show countless servants carrying huge tables and provisions to this spot deep in the woods - very different to our modern day version of picnics. Mowbray Castle isn't really a castle, more a mock ruin designed to be admired from a distance. Children love the fountain and pond, which has been restored to make the fountain work again - a wooden contraption has to be vigorously pumped to bring the fountain alive, and when it does it's quite a surprise.
The walk down to Hackfall is quite steep but always worthwhile - no matter how often we go, we always notice something new and special. And when you're hungry after a good walk, there are plenty of pubs and cafes in Masham!