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500 Acres of Natural Parkland.
Wollaton Hall (Nottingham)
Member Name: daseaford
Wollaton Hall (Nottingham)
Date: 02/10/01, updated on 15/02/02 (144 review reads)
Advantages: Variety of attractions., Free on weekdays.
Disadvantages: Needs a decent tea room.
Wollaton Hall was completed in 1588 after taking eight years to be built, under the instructions of Robert Smythson. The hall cost £8,000 to build, which is equivalent to around £15million today. The building is a wonderful example of Elizabethan Stone and is built in an almost totally symmetrical design. Today the hall is used as the home of the city’s natural history museum and it is a spectacular setting for the collection of stuffed animals and exhibits from all around the world. However, not all of the animals are dead and always very popular exhibits are the ant’s nest and the bee colony. The bees have an entrance/exit in the outside wall of the hall wall, whereas the ant colony is completely enclosed in a glass dome. As you look at either of these collections of animals you begin to wonder who is watching who!
The hall is set in 500 acres of grounds and there is a mixture of mature parkland and formal gardens. Wollaton Hall is famous for its herd of red and fallow deer that wander freely throughout the grounds. It is not unusual to see the deer grazing just a few yards from you as you walk through the park. This is not the only wildlife that you will see. Rabbits and squirrels are abundant in the park and in the quieter areas you may be able to tempt the squirrels to take food from you.
The park has a lake and you can walk all the way around the lake although it does get a little bit muddy in places after wet weather. There are ducks, geese and swans on the lake and I believe that on some occasions they do allow fishing at the lake. All around the grounds and lake there are benches and picnic tables where you can stop for something to eat or just to enjoy the view.
During the Second World War the park was used as a prisoner of war camp and the hall was used
as a school. Today it is visited by over a million visitors each year, the majority of which are from the city of Nottingham. As you wander around the park it is difficult to realise that you are just a couple of miles from the city centre. It is a real haven in a busy city.
Close to the hall is the 18th century stable block. This is the home of the city’s industrial museum and until a few years ago was also the home of the county’s police horses. These buildings now include a visitor centre and a small shop. The industrial museum contains a fine collection of lace making machinery, which of course Nottingham is famous for. There are also displays of clocks, trains, cars, motorbikes and cycles. Nottingham is also famous for Raleigh bicycles.
There is a separate building housing the Basford Beam Engine which once a month is “steamed up” and is very impressive to see running. This is looked after by the volunteers of the Nottingham Arkwright Society, so unfortunately on some days this building is not open, although most weekends you can see the Beam Engine. You can find the dates of the steamings by ringing 0115 915 3900 or by looking on the web site:
A recent addition to Wollaton is the Green Trail. This is a discovery trail aimed primarily at the younger visitors so that they will find their way around the hall and park and to encourage them to find out more about Wollaton and it’s history.
Set in the beautiful gardens is the Camellia House. This is a summerhouse that looks like a large conservatory. It was built in 1823 and is the earliest known iron fronted building in the world. Unfortunately today it looks a bit neglected and I believe it would make a wonderful setting for a tea room overlooking the formal gardens. Hopefully this is already being planned by somebody at the City Council.
The grounds are huge around the hall and during the summer events are h
eld on some of the large fields within the park. On weekdays admission to the museums and the park is free, although there is a pay and display charge for the car park. At weekends admission to the museums is £2 for adults and £1 for children. (Admission to the park is still free.) The museums are open every day during the summer from 11.00am to 5.00pm and during the winter 11.00am to 4.00pm. (except Fridays)
Of course on weekdays there is a good chance that will see a number of school parties, but the place is so large that these can be avoided. At weekends the whole place can become busy, but there is always a great atmosphere in the park.
It is easy to spend a whole day at the park and there are attractions for people of all ages and all interests. Although we have been there many times I am sure that there are still some parts of the park that we have still not seen.
To find out more about Wollaton you can look on the website:
For a very cheap thoroughly enjoyable day out I can certainly recommend Wollaton Hall to any family. It is one of Nottingham’s real treasures.
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