Route 61) Nostell Priory, National Trust, Doncaster Road, Wragby, Wakefield, 
                 WF4 1QE

 

Route:

My route concentrated around the outside of the main house, formal gardens and one of the lakes, and was around 2 miles in length. You can explore the extensive grounds further and do a tour of the many paths around the estate if you wish. It would be easy to do many more miles that are very accessible. No gates and no stiles, routes with steps are easily avoided. The accessible paths are sign-posted and you can also get a map from the National Trust staff.

 

Terrain:

Well presented wide footpaths, more loose but compacted gravel paths, some areas on highly maintained and mown grass-ways.  The estate has a few hills to negotiate but nothing hugely steep.

 

Facilities on site:

The site is operated by the National Trust – currently visitors have top prebook before you attend due to covid. You can also prebook a disabled parking area by the stable block and café.

 

None NT member prices-

Per car £5

 

Gardens only- £7:20 per adult, £3:60 per child 

House and gardens - £11:90 per adult, £5:90 per child.

 

In both cases family tickets are also available.

 

All of the facilities / attractions are free if you are a National Trust member. These include entry into the gardens and the actual house. There is a lift in the house to allow less mobile people / wheelchair users etc to reach the various floor levels. The lift is quite small so do check if taking your own mobility equipment that it and you can fit in the lift!

 

Dogs are permitted in the outer grounds only – except guide and assistance dogs wearing their service jackets.

 

The site have a limited number of TGA mobility scooters, that visitors can use free of charge, it is advisable to prebook these ahead of your visit. Conditions apply and full instruction and a disclaimer need to be completed before you are let loose.

 

The National Trust also run a free golf buggy type transfer from the main carpark to the café / stable block facilities for those who can walk but not great distances.

 

About Nostell Priory and parkland.

More commonly called Nostell, the estate surrounds a large Palladian styled country house. Dating from 1733, built by the Winn Family. It is known as Nostell Priory as the site was once the location of a priory.

 

The estate was purchased in 1654 by the London alderman, Sir Rowland Winn, after its last owner, Sir John Wolstenholme, was declared bankrupt in 1650. Construction of the present house started in 1733, and the furniture, furnishings and decorations made for the house remain in situ. The Winns were textile merchants in London, George Wynne of Gwydir was appointed Draper to Elizabeth I, his grandson, Sir George Winn was created 1st Baronet of Nostell in 1660 and the family subsequently owed its wealth to the coal under the estate, and later from leasing land in Lincolnshire for mining iron ore during the Industrial Revolution.

The house was built by James Paine for Sir Rowland Winn 4th Bart on the site of a 12th-century priory dedicated to Saint OswaldRobert Adam was commissioned to design additional wings, only one of which was completed, and complete the staterooms. Adam added a double staircase to the front of the house, and designed buildings on the estate, including the stable block.

Nostell Priory is home to a large collection of Chippendale furniture, all made for the house and commissioned by Sir Rowland Winn 5th Bart and his wife Sabine Winn. Thomas Chippendale was born in Otley in 1718 and had workshops in St Martins Lane, London. The Nostell Priory art collection includes The Procession to Calvary by Pieter Brueghel the YoungerWilliam Hogarth's Scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest - the first depiction in a painting of any scene from Shakespeare's plays - and a self-portrait by Angelica Kauffman, as well as Rowland Lockey's copy of the painting by Hans Holbein (c1527 but now lost) of Sir Thomas More and Family; this copy was commissioned in 1592 by the More family and came to Nostell in the 18th century, and is said to be the most faithful to the destroyed original. 

longcase clock, with an almost completely wooden internal mechanism, made by John Harrison in 1717, is housed in the billiardroom. Harrison, whose father Henry is thought to have been an estate carpenter, was born within half a mile of the estate. He was referred to as John "Longitude" Harrison, after devoting his life to solving the problem of finding longitude at sea by creating an accurate marine timekeeper. Known as H4, this chronometer can be seen at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London.

The Adam stable block has undergone a major renovation and is now open as a visitor centre for the house and parkland. 

Nostell Priory occupies 121 hectares (300 acres) of parkland. Within the grounds and gardens are lakeside walks. The main facade of the house faces east towards a grass vista. Leading to the lake on the west side of the house is the west lawn. The parkland has lakeside and woodland walks, views of the druid's bridge and walks to the restored Obelisk Lodge, a parkland gatehouse, through wildflower meadows. The park was purchased from Lord St Oswald by the National Trust with funding from the Heritage Lottery fund. This grant enabled the trust to acquire pictures, books, and furniture from the family.

The Obelisk Lodge was built in the 17th century and inhabited until the late 1950s.

 

Nostell is one of the great houses of the north of England. It was created not simply as a home, but also to send out an important message about the Winn family who owned it. 

The Winns originally made money from the London textile trade during the Tudor period. During the following century the family used their wealth to invest in property and land. This included the Nostell estate in Yorkshire, which was bought in 1654. Owning land brought the family new and regular income. In a society that valued land ownership above all else, it also brought status. 

By the early 18th century the family had been knighted and were firmly members of the gentry class. They now wanted to replace their existing home with a fashionable new house that could show off and add to this status. 

The results were spectacular. The cost was huge.

 

Most of Nostell was designed and built by two generations of Winns between c.1727 and 1785. 

The main structure of the house was created for the 4th baronet Sir Rowland Winn as a replacement for an older house already on the estate.  The work was overseen by architect James Paine from the mid-1730s and follows a symmetrical and relatively plain design known as Palladianism. This was fashionable in the early 18th century and was thought to express order and stability. 

 

Building a grand house in the latest design was not only an expression of good taste. It was probably also intended to support Winn’s early political ambitions in the region by acting as a place to entertain and impress. Winn was never elected and the scale and cost of the work meant the house was far from complete by the time the 4th baronet died in 1765.

Nostell was inherited by the 5th baronet (also called Sir Rowland Winn) and his wife, Swiss heiress Sabine d'Hervart. They picked up the project with new vigour, employing fashionable architect Robert Adam and leading craftsmen such as Thomas Chippendale and Joseph Rose. Designs were updated and expanded, particularly after the birth of a son and heir in 1775. Lack of money again slowed progress and work came to an abrupt end with the 5th baronet’s death in a carriage accident in 1785. 

With the death of the 5th baronet, Nostell was left a grand, but unfinished vision. Many rooms were undecorated and shut up. A plan by Adam for four new wings had got no further than the empty shell of one. 

The turn of the century saw a complex family soap opera play out. The baronetcy died out and Nostell was eventually inherited in 1817 by Rowland and Sabine’s grandson, Charles Winn. Winn had part of the house redecorated, but he had neither the money nor interest to complete the major building plans of the previous century – indeed he thought Nostell “overgrown” and a “burden”.

Charles’ real interest was in history. He bought much of the old furniture, books, paintings and objects of antiquarian interest which are still a major feature of the house today. Charles also added ‘Priory’ to the name, a reference back to the monastery that had been on the site before 1540. Perhaps it was an attempt to make up for the loss of the family title by making the house seem older and more distinguished? 

 

The Winn family continued to face financial challenges. Selling Nostell was a real possibility until the discovery of ironstone on another Winn estate in north Lincolnshire. Combined with the coal that had long been mined on the Nostell estate, Winn fortunes were revived thanks to the Scunthorpe steel industry. This business success was masterminded by Charles Winn’s son (another Rowland), who inherited in 1874. He invested in repairing and refurbishing the house. 

In many ways this time marked the point Nostell finally fulfilled its original purpose. As well as being a successful businessman, Rowland Winn was a major player in the Conservative Party, rising from M.P. to Chief Whip. The house played an important role in supporting his career, playing host to everything from mass political rallies to more intimate weekends with guests of influence and status. In 1885 he was made 1st Baron St Oswald (named after the saint to which the original Nostell Priory had been dedicated). The dream of the 18th century Winns had been realised.   

 

In 1953 the house was given to the National Trust, with full management taken over from the family in 1997.  From a chequered past defined by exclusivity and money, Nostell is now a place of wonder and enjoyment for everyone.  

 

Wildlife:

Many types of garden bird, buzzard, occasional Red Kite, Sparrowhawk. Geese, fowl, GC Grebe. Swan, Heron etc. Over the water lots of dragon and damselfly, lots of moths, butterfly and caterpillers.

Many owls can be heard at dusk. One would expect that there will be plenty of different bat species too.

 

Deer, vole, squirrel’s- during our visit these were building their nests above our chosen picnic location. Quite a hazard from things falling from above.

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