But they are also responsible for a far quirkier legacy after keeping a collection of unusual and exotic pets at their home on one of the main thoroughfares into the city.
Green lizards, bell toads, terrapins and rabbits which were taken for walks on York Racecourse while strapped in harnesses were all kept by Noel Terry and his wife, Kathleen, and their four children at Goddards on Tadcaster Road.
And animals are now returning to the National Trust property – although this time they will be less wildlife and more still life.
A host of creatures including a stag, herons, and a wild boar are featuring in the first sculpture exhibition that is being staged at the house, which has been turned into a tribute to the life and influence of the Terry family.
Award-winning sculptor Andrew Kay travelled to York yesterday from his studios in the Cumbrian market town of Kirkby Lonsdale to bring across the first six pieces for the exhibition.
A further two sculptures of stallions will arrive next week when they will be positioned in the garden overlooking the racecourse.
Mr Kay, 43, said: “It is a real privilege to be able to stage the first exhibition at the property, especially as it is somewhere that is such an important part of York’s history.
“We do make pieces that our commissioned for clients around the world, but the nice thing about putting on the exhibition is getting feedback about the work from people who are visiting the house and walking around the gardens.”
The two stallions which are arriving at Goddards next week will have an added resonance as Kenneth – Noel and Kathleen’s second son – was very keen on riding and had a horse called Patience.
When he took Patience out on rides, he often took Terry’s Hunting Chocolate Bars to snack on.
The National Trust’s visitor experience and volunteering manager, Clare Fletcher, said: “It is wonderful to think that art is imitating life in many ways.
“The Terry family have done so much for the city, and it is really quite special to be giving something back at the home where they lived.
“We are thrilled to have Andrew’s work on show with us here at Goddards.
“The gardens are a perfect setting to show off the works which have such power and personality to them.”
Goddards was the home of the Terry family between 1927, when the property was built, up until 1980 and sits on Tadcaster Road, close to the famous chocolate factory which closed in 2005.
The house was home to Noel and Kathleen, and their four children, Peter, Kenneth, Betty and Richard, before it was bought by the National Trust in the 1980s as the organisation’s regional offices.
The National Trust announced in June last year that it was launching a recruitment drive for former chocolate factory workers or anyone interested in the history of the city’s confectionery industry to help as a volunteer when the property opened to the public.
Part of the house and the gardens along with a tearoom were opened to visitors in July last year with period furniture and exhibitions on display to show how the property would have looked in the 1930s – which was the heyday of the Terry’s chocolate business.
All Gold and Chocolate Oranges were among the world-famous confectionery that was made at the factory, which opened in 1926.
However, more than 300 jobs were lost when the Terry’s factory closed in 2005 after US parent company Kraft transferred all of its production to Europe.
A question mark had remained over the future of the historic site after confectionery production came to an end in a huge blow to the city’s traditional manufacturing sector.
But the Yorkshire Post revealed in April that a deal has been hammered out to create a state-of-the-art business park and build hundreds of new houses and apartments on the 27-acre site.
Two of the UK’s leading property companies, Henry Boot Developments Ltd and the York-based housebuilder David Wilson Homes, have bought the site for an undisclosed sum from the previous owners GHT Developments.
The exhibition of Mr Kay’s work at Goddards will run from tomorrow until October 20.
All the pieces are for sale with prices ranging from £850 for a heron to £5,700 for one of the stallions.