Wollaton Hall and park in the suburbs of Nottingham is a whole manner of interests rolled into one, A grand Elizabethan mansion built in 1580 – 1588 by Sir Francis Willoughby, it’s a sprawling five-hundred-acre deer park with beautiful tree lined lake, an industrial museum with examples of the local industries and a steam pump that can be seen working on occasions. Wollaton Hall is currently the Nottingham Natural History Museum and has a wide range of educational and interactive natural history displays. From the 1st July to 29th Oct 2017 the hall will also be hosting the Dinosaurs of China exhibition, a world exclusive.
Where to begin is the question. Wollaton Hall was designed by Robert Smythson of Ancaster stone from Lincolnshire and some say funded by profits from the Wollaton coal pits, also owned by Sir Francis Willoughby, contains Nottingham’s oldest pipe organ in the gallery of the main hall. Cassandra Willoughby, Duchess of Chandos had some of the masonry and stone carvings brought from Italy in 1702, such as the gondola mooring rings and other decorative architectural carvings that can be seen adorning the grade 1 listed hall.
In recent times Wollaton Hall has been used as a filming location for the 2012 Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” Wollaton Hall was used as the Wayne Mansion, I feel this was a perfect location for Batman’s home since the hall surprisingly has caves beneath it. The caves and the admirals bath can be toured if you’re interested. Another fact about the relevance of Wollaton Hall being the home of Batman is that Gotham is just 5 miles North of Wollaton hall and is where Gotham City got its name.
Following on from Batman, heroes and legends etc.…there have been many explorers in the Willoughby family but probably the most famous was Sir Hugh Willoughby who attempted the North-East Passage to Cathay in the Arctic and died in 1554 during his attempt.
Admission to the hall, park and gardens is free, though there is a charge for parking. Throughout the year Wollaton park holds a multitude of events ranging from the Splendor music festival, outdoor cinema evenings, vintage car and motorcycle events, charity runs and dog walks, not forgetting food and drink festivals too!
I love to visit for the pure beauty of the park, to watch the deer and squirrels who can be quite entertaining at times. A stroll around the lake is so relaxing and to finish the visit of course a mug of frothy coffee at the café and maybe a batman gift from the gift shop. The gift shop is in the building which used to be home to the Nottinghamshire mounted police horses, now a great place to browse for a gift or an ice-cream, my choice is as always, an ice cream!
There’s so much detail to be told about Wollaton Hall, its heritage it’s park land, the deer and not to mention the gardens and industrial museum. To me it’s a haven on my doorstep, somewhere to walk, somewhere to picnic and if I want to, just find a quiet spot to linger with a book and just relax. A visit to the hall itself is always enjoyable especially with the kids and never fails to leave us wanting to return. On my next visit a tour of the caves is a certainty but I still enjoy the quiet spots, the out of the way parts and in five-hundred-acres of parkland that’s not too difficult even during a busy summers day. The haven on my doorstep, just a stroll away. Hope you enjoy it too!