Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

Historic Country House Close to the City

Wollaton Hall is set in 500 acres of deer park and gardens close to the city of Nottingham, houses several museums, galleries and hosts many sporting, history and cultural events during the year.

The house is set high on a hill top with panoramic views of the lake and beyond across the western outskirts of the city of Nottingham. It was built in 1580-8 for Sir Francis Willoughby and was designed and constructed by the famous architect-mason Robert Smythson who lived in Wollaton and has a memorial in St Leonard’s church in the nearby village. Wollaton Hall was funded by the profits from coal mining across the local area.

It is one of England’s most important Elizabethan buildings and has long been in the keeping of Nottingham City Council who use it as a Natural History Museum. There are daily conducted tours of the Hall, including the Prospect Room which was considered unsafe until it was secured and opened up as part of a major restoration of the Hall, Camellia House and Park.

A Day Out for Everbody

On a fine day it is a good opportunity to combine a picnic and walks in the park with visits to the house and museums. It is also a simple trip out of the city using public transport when visiting Nottingham.

Enjoying the Snow at Wollaton ParkOn the rare occasions when Nottingham has a proper snow fall the hill in front of the Hall becomes the centre for sledging, tobogganing and even skiing and snowboarding. As there is rarely enough snow for more than a couple of days in any winter it always catches everyone by surprise and without sledges so youngsters will use whatever they can get hold of: they can be very inventive even using tea trays or heavy plastic sacks!

Events

In the winter the park is a location for regular junior football matches and is often used to host regional and national cross-country championships and other sporting events.

During the year the park has a series of events that include a major classic car show in June: Autokarna organised by the pre-war Austin 7 Club. There is also an annual Steam Rally in the Spring where many restored traction and other steam vehicles can be seen in steam.

Other special events, such as rock and music festivals, tend to be a more occasional or one-off. But there is a programme of events each year for which details are available from Nottingham Tourist Information.

Museums

Brough Superior, Nottingham Industrial MuseumIn the stable block there is an industrial museum has several steam engines including the Basford Beam Engine and many ploughing engines and associated equipment. The last Sunday of each month is a Steaming Day when they can be seen working. Also included in the museum is the only Celer car which was built in the nearby Bobbers Mill area of Nottingham in 1904 - it has been undergoing restoration but has taken part in many London-Brighton runs since 1967.

The industrial museum also reflects Nottingham's role in the development of bicycles at the nearby Raleigh works which now form the Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham. It was closed for a while but from March 2012 it will be staffed by volunteers so it can open every weekend. It has particularly good collection off Brough and Brough Superior motorcycles as well as the only Celer car from 1904. All were part, along with Raleigh and others, of Nottingham’s rich industrial heritage.

The Hall itself houses the city's Natural History Museum which has an updated, more modern, exhibitions but still has its many traditional stuffed animals, including a gorilla and giraffe and other more traditional natural history specimens.

In what for many years were the stables for Nottingham's police horses there is also a gallery that houses regular art and photographic exhibitions. In the stable’s courtyard there is cafe where light refreshments are available.

Getting There

Red Deer in the MistWollaton Park is just off Nottingham's outer ring road and is well signposted for visiting by car. Parking, is not usually a problem (there is a small charge, £2 or so – it is pay and display so change is needed) but it can be a bit crowded on sunny summer Sundays. Additional parking is made available for major events such as Autokarna.

Inexpensive buses from the city centre or the Broadmarsh bus station near the railway station pass the gates at Lenton Lodge or in Wollaton Village and it is then a short walk through the park to the Hall and the main area on the hill side in front where most events take place.

Wollaton Hall and Park is well worth a visit as part of a stay in Nottingham or the surrounding area.

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