The visitor may wonder at a priory having such a magnificent house. The priory was a 12th-century Augustinian foundation, dedicated to St Oswald, supported initially by Robert de Lacy of Pontefract, and Thurstan of York. By about 1114, Aldulf, confessor to Henry I of England, was prior of a group of regular canons at Nostell. As part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the priory was closed in 1540. After the dissolution the lands of the priory came into the possession of Sir Thomas Gargrave, a High Sheriff of Yorkshire, Speaker of the House of Commons and president of the Council of the North. The estate was purchased in 1654 by the London alderman, Sir Rowland Winn, after the owner was declared bankrupt in 1650. Construction of the present house started in 1733, and the furniture, furnishings and decorations made for the house remain in situ. The Winns were textile merchants in London, George Wynne of Gwydir was appointed Draper to Elizabeth I, his grandson, Sir George Winn was created 1st Baronet of Nostell in 1660 and the family subsequently owed its wealth to the coal under the estate, and later from leasing land in Lincolnshire for mining iron ore during the Industrial Revolution.
Robert Adam was commissioned to design additional wings, only one of which was completed, and complete the state rooms. Adam added a double staircase to the front of the house, and designed buildings on the estate, including the stable block. Nostell Priory is home to a large collection of Chippendale furniture, all made for the house. Thomas Chippendale was born in Otley in 1718 and had workshops in St Martins Lane, London. The Nostell Priory art collection includes The Procession to Calvary by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, William Hogarth's Scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest - the first depiction in a painting of any scene from Shakespeare's plays - and a self-portrait by Angelica Kauffman, as well as Rowland Lockey's copy of the painting by Hans Holbein (c1527 but now lost) of Sir Thomas More and his family; this copy was commissioned in 1592 by the More family and came to Nostell in the 18th century, and is said to be the most faithful to the destroyed original. A longcase clock, with an almost completely wooden internal mechanism, made by John Harrison in 1717, is housed in the billiard room. Harrison, whose father Henry is thought to have been an estate carpenter, was born within half a mile of the estate. He was referred to as John "Longitude" Harrison, after devoting his life to solving the problem of finding longitude at sea by creating an accurate marine timekeeper. Known as H4, this chronometer can be seen at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
Nostell Priory occupies 121 hectares (300 acres) of parkland. Within the grounds and gardens are lakeside walks and a collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. The main facade of the house faces east towards a grass vista. Leading to the lake on the west side of the house is the west lawn. The parkland has lakeside and woodland walks, views of the druid's bridge and walks to the restored Obelisk Lodge through wildflower meadows. An electric buggy runs between the car park and visitor reception upon request. Adapted toilets on the ground floor of the house and in the car park. Grounds - partly accessible, there is a map of the accessible route. Two single-seater PMVs, booking essential. Building - level entrance. Stairs to other floors, lift available. Function Suite: level entrance. Three wheelchairs for use outside and inside the house, booking essential. Dogs on leads welcome in the park and there is a dog walking area close to the car park. Assistanceg dogs are welcome throughout. Lift is small and wheelchair users/electric PMV users may have to transfer to one of the smaller units to see the state rooms.
Location : Doncaster Road, Nostell, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF4 1QE
Transport: Fitzwilliam (National Rail) 1 mile. Bus Routes : 496, 495 (Arriva) and 223 (BHL Coaches) stop outside.
Opening Times : House - Wednesday to Sunday - 13:00 to 17:00; 11:00 to 12:00 for guided tours.
Opening Times : Gardens - Daily - 10:00 to 17:00.
Tickets : House + Gardens - Adults £10.50; Children £5.25.
Tickets : Gardens Only - Adults £6.60; Children £3.30.
Tel: 01924 863892