Nostell Priory, Wakefield

Setting off early one weekend we decided to visit Nostell Priory on the outskirts of Wakefield in West Yorkshire.  Approaching Wakefield we stopped off for breakfast rolls and coffee at the Union Rooms in Batley which is just around the corner from a Mill Outlet so we had a quick look in there before moving on.  The Mill Outlet was very quiet and seemed quite lacklustre so with little or nothing to interest us we returned to our car and continued on to Nostell Priory.   Car parking is £4 and entrance to the House and Gardens a further £11, but free of charge to National Trust members.  As rain clouds threatened we decided to begin with a self guided tour of the Palladian mansion.

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The Great Hall, Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory was built on the site of a medieval priory and is an eighteenth century country house.  It was home to the Winn family for over 300 years and is now run by the National Trust.  Sir Rowland Winn spared no expense to create the sumptuous rooms that are now on display and employed both Robert Adam and Thomas Chippendale to design the interiors.

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The State Dining Room, Nostell Priory

The rooms were all designed to create a grand impression with exquisite plasterwork and oil paintings by Hogarth and Kauffman.  I liked the sumptuous state dining room with its hand painted wallpaper and the elegant table settings.  It’s probably just as well that they employed servants with such a large table as otherwise it would have been difficult to pass dishes around.

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One of the bedrooms at Nostell Priory

Mounting the sweeping staircase we were able to view several bedrooms and the one featured above I found particularly interesting.  As you can see, the four poster bed is tucked into an alcove resulting in a narrow squeeze to get into bed.  If I was sleeping in a bed like that I think I would be worried that the overhead canopy might collapse and fall on top of me during the night!

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Clockwork exhibition at Nostell Priory

We wandered around at leisure with volunteers on hand in most rooms to answer questions and provide more detail.   Laminated fact sheets are also available in each room for additional background information.  Nostell Priory is home to one of the first handmade longcase clocks made by local inventor John Harrison. To celebrate its 300th birthday an installation of 2,000 ticking treasures through the ages ‘Harrison’s Garden’ was on display and interesting to view.

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Stable Courtyard Cafe, Nostell Priory

Located between the House and the Gardens is the visitor centre, stable courtyard cafe with indoor and terrace seating and a gift shop.  It was very dull but warm enough to tempt visitors to sit outdoors.  A silk screen printing workshop was attracting some school children whilst others were happily playing on the sweeping Priory lawns.

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The rear view of Nostell Priory

Leaving the stable courtyard we followed a signpost to ‘Lakeside Walks’ through the garden entrance.  This footpath led us towards the rear of the house from where we caught our first glimpse of the lake.  Passing through a small gateway the path continued onto a part of the grounds known as the Pleasure Garden.  From the bottom of the slope we were able to see the boat house and lower lake.

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Druid’s Bridge Nostell Priory

A little further along we passed Druid’s Bridge before retracing our steps back to the house where we strolled through the flower gardens.  The gardens were looking their best with the fragrant iceberg  roses clinging steadfastly to the walls and below red, pink and white peonies bloomed along the edge of the footpath.

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Walled flower garden at Nostell Priory

If you have enjoyed reading this post, you may also be interested in the following :

Andover and the Mottisfont Rose Garden

Ripley Castle Gardens and Village

Beningbrough Hall, York

 

34 thoughts on “Nostell Priory, Wakefield

  1. I would love to visit this place. I took the membership out last year and have been to a few places, but West Yorkshire is a bit far away for me. 😉 Still, I would recommend to anyone to take out the National Trust membership. I am a massive fan of these trusts and foundations as they are doing such a great job in preserving, conserving and restoring these places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your welcome thoughts Anna. There are quite a few National Properties in West and North Yorkshire so hopefully you can get to visit them sometime. We love our NT membership, sometimes we don’t visit a property for ages but I’m certain we cover our membership in the year and try and visit some new places each year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting place to visit! I do love exploring these sorts of old houses and seeing how life was back then. I am fascinated by the servants quarters, it’s so interesting to learn how they lived and how life between upstairs and downstairs operated.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for an excellent post. We used to visit Nostell weekly as members of the NT and living only a few miles south of it. There is an excellent series of walks through the extensive gardens and around the two lakes and it might just be warm enough now to catch a glimpse of shimmering dragonflies along the banks.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Such an interesting visit through the history of that area. I would be interested to know what made the Winn family hand the property over to the National Trust. Too expensive to maintain? Anyway it would have been a tragedy to sell it to developers for “progress” which would be a rape of historical monuments.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I recognised the name John Harrison immediately. He was the clockmaker who eventually mastered the chronometer – the watch used for ship navigation to determine longitude. His story is well told in Dava Sobel’s “Longitude”. When on a visit to England around 2000, I saw several prototypes at Greenwich, but I eventually tracked down the all-important most portable one, H5, at the Clockmakers Guild in London. It was no mean feat to find that building! They may have handed that one over to Greenwich also now, although I would be surprised if they’d let such a significant item out of their collection.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure you’ll write an interesting story when you do. And I enjoyed your outing to Nostell Priory. My great-grandmother came from Bradford, in the West Riding area of Yorkshire, and it was wonderful to see inside one of the nearby stately homes of her era. When I was in Bradford a few years ago I was able to visit the Crossley Heath School at Halifax. In my great-gran’s time it was the Crossley Orphan School, and her younger brother and sister were educated there. That building would also make an interesting story.

        Liked by 1 person

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