A visit to Nostell Priory can easily take up a whole day as there is plenty to see and explore. Wear shoes suitable for walking, as you may end up walking quite far if you want to fully explore all the parkland. Dogs on a lead are welcome and there are several dedicated dog walking areas around the grounds. Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch in one of the gardens or parkland areas.
How to get to Nostell Priory
The House is not far from the A1 and is easy to find. Follow the brown signs. The full address is Nostell Priory Estate, Doncaster Road, Wakefield WF4 1QE. Open most days, there is an entrance charge. However, the National Trust own the House, so entry is free to Trust members. There is also a charge for car parking, again free to Trust members.
Nostell is nearly 300 years old. It was built between 1725 and 1785 on the site of a medieval priory, as a home for the Winn family who still live there today. The house was intended to showcase fashionable design. It also makes a statement about the wealth and social status of the family.
There are 300 acres of parkland, gardens, lakeside walks and an orchard to explore. The house itself is a great treasure store. Inside is a collection of Chippendale furniture specially made for the house, as well as paintings by Brueghel the Younger, William Hogarth and Angelica Kauffmann, a John Harrison clock and an 18th-century doll’s house.
All the rooms in the House are immaculately presented. As well as splendid furniture, lots of smaller items decorate the rooms as well. One room even has its original wallpaper.
There are a number of different landscapes and wildlife in the gardens at Nostell. The front of the house faces east, and the west lawn at the side leads to the lake and lakeside walks. The surrounding parkland has woodland walks, views of the druid’s bridge and a walk through wildflower meadows to the restored Obelisk Lodge.
Kitchen Garden – this sits behind the Orangery and has an orchard of Yorkshire apple trees, vegetable patches and a flower garden planted especially to attract bees and other pollinating insects.
Menagerie Garden – This secluded and peaceful garden near the middle lake was once home to monkeys, lions and other exotic species. Once through the gothic arch entrance, look for the very old, Holm Oak tree which is one of the features of the garden.
Pleasure grounds – these have a variety of different landscapes. You can follow a circular path through the woodland of sweet chestnuts and oak trees to the Lower Lake. The Lower Lakes’s bridge and boathouse reflect perfectly in the lake on sunny days. Walk back up to the Middle Lake and admire the cascade of water flowing over the stone Druid’s Bridge. The best time to visit the Pleasure Grounds is springtime as first snowdrops, then daffodils, bluebells and foxgloves flower from March to June.
Wildlife – the Parkland is home to lots of different species. Three different types of woodpecker (green, lesser spotted and great) live in the woodland. From the lakeside paths, you’ll see herons, swans and ducks and possibly a kingfisher.
Engine Wood and Joiner’s Wood – Joiner’s Wood is full of oak trees. In the wood, you can enjoy building a den and woodland hideaway. Engine Wood in June is full of bluebells, you can often hear blue tits and robins singing and if you are lucky you might see a Roebuck deer.
Far Vista and Sheep Wash Field – These areas of meadowland are maintained for the benefit of ground-nesting birds. If you have brought a picnic then Hardwick Beck in Sheep Wash Field is the perfect place.
Obelisk Park – Now a wildflower meadow this old arable land is now home to lots of different butterflies, bees and moths, as well as birds of Prey.
Around the estate are a number of playground activities for children to enjoy. I liked the fact that it was well kept, quiet and peaceful.
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