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Rufford Country Park (Ollerton)

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Ollerton, Nottinghamshire. Tel: +44 (0) 1623 824153. Rufford Country Park is acres of woodland and parkland at the heart of which stands the remains of a 12th Century Cistercian Abbey.

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    6 Reviews
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      14.07.2013 19:52
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      Great family day out

      Our oldest daughter performing at the all day "Brilliance" event at Rufford Park today. It was an event put on by Nottinghamshire County Council Performing arts for Years 3 and over, as a Summer concert. Our daughter plays for the County Concert Band hence needed to be there at 10.30 until 5.30pm. So we packed the picnic and set off, very conscious it was going to be a long day and hoping there would be enough to keep our younger 2 children amused.

      The park is on the A617, 17 miles north of Nottingham. According to our leaflet, you can get the 33 bus (nottingham to Worksop) which stops at the bottom of the drive. We simply sat Nav'd the post code NG22 9DF.

      Entrance to the park is completely free, however parking is £3 per car, going up to £5 for special events. Surprising we were still only charged £3 today. There is ample parking in different separate car parks with an overflow car park. £20 would buy you a season ticket.

      The park is open daily except christmas day, 10am till 5pm (peak) and 10.30 till 4.30pm (off peak) although due to the event we left at 5.30pm and there was still very full car parks.

      Rufford is one of Englands top 10 country parks, set in 150 acres of parkland. It has a lake, woods, gardens, and abbey ruins to explore. The ruins have an undercroft, which holds an excellent display about the Cisterian Monks of the 12th Century, which is interactive and fun.

      The sculptures in the gardens have the kids racing to look whats next, standing behind a headless statue which would make a great photo stop if I hadn't left my camera at home. The play park caters more for younger children but that didn't stop our children scrabbling through tunnels and balancing on bits of wood. There was a fortune maze as well, which again was for younger children.

      I would say a stroll round the lake took us just over an hour, we took old bread and fed the ducks and geese on the way. The pathways are all wheelchair and pushchair friendly. Apparently you can hire electric mobility scooters for a small charge.

      The grounds are beautifully maintained, with draping flowers and arbours, seating at strategic places and well sculptured hedges and trees.

      There are ample toilets as well as a Coach house cafe and a mill tea shop. The toilets we used but made use of the grounds to have a picnic rather than eating in. We did however purchase ice creams which were about £1.80 each.

      There are a few places to purchase souvenirs, a craft centre, a gift shop as well as an "outdoor living" shop selling water proof coats and other bits of walkers type gear.

      You can also get hitched at Rufford, with a mid week package for 3k.

      We had a great day out, we listened to the many music concerts in the different marques, from classical, to jazz, with steel pans and dancing. So the afternoon flew by, however at least 4 hours was spent wandering around and we were never bored. The grounds and buildings are well maintained, litter free and clearly cared for. For £3 parking fee I don't think you could beat it. Its a 5 Doo yoo from me.



      Website
      www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/ruffordcp

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        26.12.2011 13:33
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        A country park in North Nottinghamshire

        Rufford Abbey Country Park is one of several areas within the Dukeries of North Nottinghamshire that is accessible to the general public. Historically the Dukeries were the huge country estates and hunting grounds of the Dukes and throughout this region which spans much of the Sherwood Forest there are numerous such examples to be found, but many of these estates are still privately owned and largely closed to the public. Clumber Park (National Trust) and the area of Sherwood Forest near the Major Oak are the most well known public areas but Rufford Abbey is another fine example and is a wonderful place to experience this unique habitat.

        Rufford Abbey Country Park takes its name from the 12th century Cisterian Abbey within its grounds, which is now in the care of English Heritage. The Park covers an area of 150 acres, which includes a large lake, mature woodland, heath and farmland. It lies close to the village of Ollerton and is well sign posted from all major routes. Unlike Clumber Park there is no admission charge here but a £3 car parking fee applies during the summer months.

        There are two main car parks. One of these is adjacent to Rufford Mill, which has now been converted into shops, a café and a garden centre and the other is close to the Abbey. I always park at the one near the Mill, I'm not sure why it's just out of habit and probably because it's the first one I come to from the direction I approach it. This car park is however much smaller than the other one so unless you arrive early it is often full. From this cark it is only a few metres walk to the garden centre and once you've passed this you reach the building that once held the mill. This is now a gift shop with toilets and there is also a café. Outside here there is a large terrace with outdoor seating for when the weather is fine.

        From Rufford Mill you can see the lake and you'll notice that the footpath towards it is wide and of good quality. Wheelchairs and electric scooters can be hired from the shop and this place is popular with users of both as there is a nice flat circular path that goes all the way around the lake. For the more adventurous there are numerous other footpaths and trails that head off into the woods if you want to get away from the crowds (as I often do) but it's fair to say that the majority of visitors stick to the main path around the lake.

        If you are walking around the lake it really doesn't make any difference whether to turn left or right, but there is a sign post pointing in both directions. These signs give the distance in minutes rather than miles and both list the same attractions, which includes the Abbey (12 minutes to the right or 15 minutes to the left). I'm not sure who came up this system but these times are quite generous and I would normally reach the Abbey in well under 10 minutes, whichever direction I take. The full circular walk without stopping I'd normally do in 20-25 minutes.

        The lake was created around 1750 and although its present function is purely ornamental it originally powered a corn mill and later also a saw mill. Today it provides an important habitat for ducks, geese and swans.

        I remember the very first time that I saw Rufford Abbey and I was very disappointed that it's actually much more like a large house than an Abbey and in fact there is no church here now at all. This is because the original monastery, which was founded in 1147 by monks from Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire was converted into a domestic dwelling following the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII. In 1626 it became the family home of the Saville's who were one of Yorkshire's richest families at the time and it remained in their hands until 1931 and the death of the last Lord Saville. Following almost four decades of neglect the country house and its vast estate was purchased by Nottinghamshire County Council in 1969 who opened the grounds as a country park. The ruins of the original Abbey adjacent to the house were later handed over to English Heritage but the house, which was in need of repair remained untouched until the 1980's.

        It was during the 1980's that the Formal Gardens were recreated back to their former glory and other areas of the park were landscaped. Part of the house known as the Jacobean Wing was transformed into a restaurant (now called the Saville Restaurant) and in 2007 a large children's playground including a maze was created. The transformation of Rufford Abbey Country Park is still ongoing and in the last couple of years the sawmill has been renovated, a second maze has been created and there is now also a Rose Garden and numerous sculptures have appeared.

        With the exception of the Saville Restaurant the house is not open to the public but it possible to wander around the ruins of the old Abbey, which are much more impressive up close than from a distance, where they appear to blend in with the house. Inside the ruins there are several information placards advising the visitor of the key points of interest along with a plan of how the Abbey would have originally looked.

        The sheer size of this country park means that there is so much to see and many things can be easily missed. On my most recent visit (2nd January 2011) I only spotted the information sign at the side of the huge Cedar tree on the lawn near the house for the first time and learned that it was planted by King Charles 11 on one of his many visits here. Also near the house are the Animal Graves, a miniature cemetery for the family's favourite pets over the centuries. Again I'd never seen these before but now they are sign posted.

        I love Rufford Abbey Country Park for its tranquillity and wildlife but I despite the crowds so I try to avoid visiting here at popular times. If you wander off the main footpaths you are likely to see lots of deer (both Roe Deer and Fallow Deer) and woodpeckers. During late summer evenings I've often sat down on one of the many benches in the woods and listened to the song of the Nightingale or the bizarre chirring of the Nightjar, both of these birds are the at the very northern extremity of their European breeding ranges here and are reminders that this habitat of woodland interspersed with heath is unique so far north in England and is akin to areas of the New Forest in southern England.

        I'd certainly recommend a visit here and it's the sort of place that you could easily spend a full day at, especially in the summer if you take a picnic.

        Rufford Abbey Country Park
        The Abbey
        Ollerton
        Nottinghamshire
        NG22 9DF

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          19.01.2010 21:58
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          Such a lovely day to spend a Sunday.

          My little piece of heaven,just outside Ollerton,near Mansfield.A beautiful country estate that is now open to the public.It is completely free to enter.A small charge of £3 per car to park is all that is asked.If you are in a mini bus ,such as a day group or excursion,parking is free.

          So what is Rufford Country park?
          Well yes,the name states the obvious,but it is so much more than a country park.
          Founded in the 12th century by Gilbert de Gant,it was lived in by Cistercian monks.The Abbey was dissolved in 1534.The estate was later granted to the Talbot family, and its residents included George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. In 1626, the house was sold to Sir George Savile, and later inhabited by his descendant, the Marquess of Halifax.

          The Savile family sold the estate during the Great Depression, and it was later acquired by English Heritage. The late 17th century North Wing was demolished in the 1950s.
          I am sorry another grand family found hardship,but so happy a gem like this became available to all who love the natural beauty of this park.



          There are little hidden oasis' all over this park.Depending on what you expect from a country park,different aspects will appeal to you.For me it is every aspect ,as I love the country views,the lake,the Abbey and the play areas.

          Let me try and take you on a virtual walk in words.

          There are two entrances into this country park.I always take the second coming in from the A1.It has the bigger carpark and just so happens to be the place I prefer to start my walk to see all of the park.

          When I go,it is a family day out.We get into the property ,and on seeing the pay hut ,there is always a lovely,friendly smiling person to accept your parking fee.There is always somewhere to park,as when the typically used carparks fill up,they will open the overflow carpark up.Which is a massive field.

          On getting the children out of the car.We walk through the woods.Usually playing games with the children.Spotting squirrels,getting them to find different shaped leaves.Even just running round.No one minds because it feels so safe.

          There is an ice house so far into the woods.It looks amazingly gothic,fully intact.It is perfectly safe and chained off.

          After scaring my children with stories of monsters locked up in the icehouse,we walk on towards the broadway,which is a lovely broad and galant looking lawn ,opening up all of a sudden from inbetween the woods.
          Next we usually stay a while on the broadway green and have a homemade picnic.(Im too tight to pay inflated prices!)
          After that we take a walk towards the lake,on the way we always stop to show our respect to the family grave site.That is the pet family gravesite.The pet dogs and even a horse.
          Whilst walking round the lake,we love feeding the swans and moor hens amongst other birds.
          Halfway around,if starting from my entrance,there is a shop,toilets and also a fjord.Children love to sit there and watch the cars go through.Cars purposely make sure they cause spray for the side show.
          This is also next to the first entrance that I usually do not park in.Also here is an icecream hut(not always open),and a garden centre(bit expensive).
          I continue back round to where I entered and walk up towards the newly refaced and refurbished play gardens.You can easily imagine the days when gentry used to play games in garden mazes.There are sensory gardens,mazes,and art gardens.This is where I sit down while my children run round and wear themselves out a tad bit more,ready for home and bed.
          Then we walk up to the Abbey,not always as ive already been in.For a bit of intouchness time with the past,I love standing inside the Abbey.It is set out downstairs like a museum ,with information board including sketches and paintings.
          You can also go up onto the upper floor of the Abbey,but it is not fully intact,and roofless.Magnificent non the less.
          I fall short in my explination of the Saville restaurant as I have not used it,although it has an extremely top reputation amongst people I know have used it.
          Here there is also the old orangery and a cheaper cafe for people who dont want to splash out on the restaurant.Also another set of toilets,and yes they include babychanging facilities.
          By now I am so exhausted I let the husband put the children in the car,and fall asleep on the journey back home.
          And so do the children,bliss for a family of five for less than £5.Where else could you get that sort of budget entertainment?
          My opinion on Rufford park is I would live there in an Elizabethan style dress as lady of the manner.And I do,whilst sitting on the broadway green imagine being gentry 300 years ago.A romanticized version though it probably is.
          A last small note,dogs are welcome with your family also but please be respectful and clean up afer your pets.
          Thankyou and I hope if you go ,you find it ass enjoyable as my family and I do.x

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            18.06.2009 20:59
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            Have a lazy Sunday afternoon and forget your troubles!

            One of my all time favourite places to be is Rufford! I have been going to Rufford since i was a small child, and i remember my dad and mum taking us 5 kids there on a Sunday and having a picnic on the 'lawn'.
            If you have never been to Rufford, i find it a spectacular place. The parking is free on a normal weekday, but you are charged on the weekend, but i think it is only about £2.00. There are a large number of parking spaces, so you should be able to park pretty easily.
            As you come from the car park, you are met with the house, which has just had some lovely rose gardens re-done at the front.
            Go through the arch to the cafe and shops. The shops are great to browse around and have some lovely things in.
            The gardens are absolutely stunning, and there is now some gardens that have been made for the kids, with lots of activities.
            The walk to the lake is great, especially through the woods, passing the graves of the pets that once were owned by the owners of the house. The Ice House is also a favourite of mine, and i always have a look in it each time.
            There is a garden centre and shops at the other end of the lake which are worth a look at.
            I love to walk back to the house, wander about in the Abbey (watch out for the ghosts!) and then go to the Coach House cafe for a cake and tea! Time then to look in the shops before heading back to the car.
            The prices in the shops and the cafe's are also good value for money.
            We normally spend a good few hours at Rufford and enjoy every minute!
            I normally try and get there every couple of weeks in memory of my dad, as he loved the place as much as me!
            If you can get to Rufford, go and have a wander. It is a lovely, beautiful place to visit.

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              11.05.2001 18:28
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              It was a fine bank holiday Monday and we were ready for an outing as a family. Picnic packed and ready to go we went back to an old favourite. Rufford country park, but why there? Rufford Park is a large park in north Nottinghamshire. There is plenty to do there whether travelling as adults or with children. The first hurdle is to park. If you go on a normal weekend or weekday there is plenty of parking costing £1.50. If you go on a bank holiday when every one else is going get there early or else they may run out of spaces. The park attendants are very good at directing you to what spaces there are. When parked the first place my children find is the play area it is suitable for toddlers up, well my oldest at 11 was happy to play there. There is plenty of space not too far from the car park for picnics and to play games. There are people playing cricket, rounders, and football or just flying kites and throwing Frisbees. Even though we were there on what must be one of their busiest days we could find ourselves a space to sit, eat and kick a ball about. There is an old dilapidated 12th Century Cistercian Abbey to look around with something of a history lesson available in the crypt. This is a very well laid out museum which children enjoy with flaps to lift, there is enough to put the most devout child off becoming a Monk! In the other buildings there is a gift shop full of the normal paraphernalia, a chance to spend you pocket money if you like. A more arty shop come gallery for the bigger spenders and the toilets. Beware the bank holiday queues for the ladies. My daughter was not impressed when dad took her to the gents. There is also a restaurant. Time to look around the grounds and you come across the orangery which used to be a bathhouse. At the front of it is a fountain that disappointingly does not work. From here you can walk around the formal gardens. They seem to be doing some
              sculptures here I look forward to seeing them when I am next there. There is a lot to look at in these gardens. The next port of call is a walk to and round the lake. The lake though not particularly big is home to a lot of wild fowl. If you are in luck you may see ducklings or goslings but beware of their parents. It is nice to look out to see what wild animals you can see. At the far end of the lake is a garden centre selling plants and garden ornaments, a shop selling outdoor clothes and other souvenirs. Here is the place to visit the ladies! The favourite thing to watch seemed to be a ford with a lot of cars passing through. On the way back to the car you may want to pass through the woodland. There is an old icehouse in there where, before the days of freezers they could store ice for many months. Handy if you wanted icecream. Other things to look out for:- Can you find a bench with a shepherd and his sheep? Can you find a Mole coming out of the ground? Can you find a pike eating another fish? A trip to Rufford Park is well worth it. I suggest that other than a bank holiday Monday may be a good idea, but if that is all you have do not let that put you off.

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                27.02.2001 01:20
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                Rufford Park was bought by the Nottinghamshire County Council in 1969 primarily as a country retreat for the residents of the City of Nottingham. Originally the park was the site of a Cistercian Abbey which was in existence between 1146 and 1536. When Henry VIII started dissolving the monasteries Rufford was one of the first to go as at that time there were very few monks present and the building was in a poor state of repair. Remains of the Abbey are still present and there is an exhibition depicting what life would have been like for the monks at that time. In 1536 the Earl of Shrewsbury took over the park and turned the Abbey into a private home. In the 17th century the house was transferred to the Savile family who continued to live in it until the early 1900’s. By 1940 much of the house was falling into disrepair and much of it was demolished in 1956. The County Council is currently applying for a large amount of European funding to restore a lot of the buildings and give visitors a perception of what the whole building would have looked like originally. For any literary people out there – Wragby Hall in DH Lawrence “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” is based on Rufford. But, Rufford Park is much more than just the Abbey, in fact a lot of the visitors don’t even visit the Abbey ruins. The park has large areas of open grassland that are ideal for ball games or just relaxing on a hot Summer’s day. There is also a children’s playground with all sorts of things to play on or climb over. Next to the grassed areas is a large wooded area with paths criss-crossing and making an ideal area for strolling through the trees. Hidden in the woods are the Ice Houses. These are large pits with a stone building used for storing meat packed in ice. These were used around 1660 and two are still in existence today, although the domestic fridge made them redundant a long time ago. There is a large la
                ke with hundreds of ducks, geese and swans and it seems almost compulsory to take a loaf of bread with you to feed the birds. If you visit the park on a Sunday afternoon don’t be surprised if the birds do not seem too interested in the food, they have probably eaten so much over the weekend they probably can’t manage to eat any more. If however you visit mid-week in winter to feed the birds be prepared to be surrounded, especially by the very noisy geese. You can walk the complete way around the lake (about one mile) and on the far side there is a bird sanctuary where you may well see some unusual birds. (Please don’t ask me what types as I can never remember the names, but there are display boards showing the types of birds and their names). Around the lake there are a number of platforms that overlook the lake and many of these have picnic tables that make ideal spots for a Summer’s picnic. Throughout the park there are many picnic tables and benches so there are plenty of places to stop, take a rest or just admire the view. The lake was built by damming the stream that runs through the park in order to drive a Corn Mill that was built in 1750 at the far end of the park. The Corn Mill was used until the 1860’s when it was converted into a Saw Mill which was in use until 1938. The old mill wheel is still in place but it is not operational. The old mill building is now a heritage centre which includes a country style shop called the Outdoor Living Store. Where the mill stream runs away from the mill it crosses a road as a ford. Whilst parents are looking around the shop it is a very popular pastime for children to stand next to the fencing by the ford and get splashed by any speeding cars passing through the ford. Although rather silly it can look rather spectacular. Next to the old mill is the Lakeside Garden Shop. This garden centre always has some very interesting plants and garden accessories and is well w
                orth a visit. There is also an information room in the garden centre informing visitors about events in the park. During the Summer there is an event on most weekends including craft fairs, goat shows, band displays, barbecues and many more. For the younger members of the family (7 – 14 year olds) there is the Green Gang. This is a club run by the Park Rangers on the first Saturday of each month for two hours and costs £1 per session. When our eldest son was younger he went to this for some time and thoroughly enjoyed the sessions. These included such things as making bat and bird boxes, animal tracking, laying hedges, insect hunts, bird spotting and making shelters. There are also some of these events organised for the whole family and one we always particularly enjoy is the bat watch. For this you meet the Rangers about an hour before dusk and are taken around the park to the different areas where the bats can be found. Before starting the tour there is a talk and slide show telling you about the different bats that you should see. As well as some spotlights set up over the lake and by the buildings the Rangers also have bat detectors which change the bat signals into audible sounds so that they can find and track the bats. It is amazing just how many bats there are. The whole evening is normally finished off with soup and bread. This may not be everybody’s idea of a good night out, but we always thoroughly enjoy it. In the converted stables at the main buildings there are two shops, a gift shop and a craft shop. Most of the items in the craft shop are made by local craftspeople, but this is not the place to go if you are looking for a bargain. The items all look very nice, but I don’t think I have ever seen anybody buy anything. Above the craft shop are two exhibition areas: The Gallery has a programme of regular exhibitions (each normally about a month) which are normally worth a visit. Then there is the Ce
                ramic Centre; this is a permanent exhibition for the work of local craftspeople and includes computerised information about the artists and their work. There is also a collection of computers, which can be used for Internet access at £1.50 per hour. In the old coach house there is a snack bar selling light meals, snacks and drinks. The prices are reasonable, but this does get very busy and it is often difficult to get a seat. Although there is a large number of tables outside, which is OK in good weather. In part of the restored Abbey is the Savile Restaurant. We have never been in here but it does look very pleasant. Meals here probably work out about £10 each. (2 courses and drink.) Adjacent to the Abbey buildings is the Orangery. This was built by Sir George Savile in 1730 as a bath house. Most of the original swimming area is still in place. In 1889 the building was converted into an Orangery and now it is used for sculpture exhibitions, both for large pieces of sculpture outside and smaller pieces in the Aspinal Gallery. From the Orangery you can walk into the formal gardens which includes a permanent sculpture collection. The gardens are split up into many small gardens, each specialising in particular types of plants and it seems like a maze as you wander from garden to garden. You can easily spend a whole day at Rufford Park. It is easy to find on the A614 (about ten miles north of Nottingham.) Admission to the park is free, but there is a £1.50 car park fee at weekends and on Bank Holidays. Parking can be difficult on sunny Summer afternoons as the park gets very popular. Although a lot of people visit the park, because it is so big you do not feel that it is ever crowded. To find out more about the park then you could have a look at their web site on: http://www.ruffordcraftcentre.org.uk This park is a great place for a traditional family day out. You can have a walk through the woods
                or the gardens, feed the ducks, play games or just relax, enjoy a picnic or a meal in the café or restaurant. Go to Rufford Park and just unwind and feel any tension or stress slipping out of your life.

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