Whether you are wanting a place to visit for an entire day or just half a day at a weekend or in the school holidays, Oakwell Hall is perfect for either.
Situated in Birstall, West Yorkshire, Oakwell Hall, a Grade 1 listed building sits in the beautiful period gardens surrounded by 110 acres of country park.
The hall is open to visitors, set out as a family home in the 1690’s.
Oakwell Hall History
John Batt had the hall built on the land that was built by his father, with a probable date of construction being around 1583.
Oakwell was built in gritstone in post-medieval style with a main grand hall with wings to either side. The main hall was built and designed to impress the many visitors who were entertained there.
The busiest rooms at the time, would have been the large kitchen which provided constant food for the gentry, tradesmen, servants.
It is thought that food may have originally been cooked over the large fireplace at one end of the great hall, and in an inventory of 1611, the kitchen was mentioned as occupying a separate room in the east wing. Oakwell Hall passed to municipal ownership in 1928 and is now looked after by Kirkwell Council.
Friends of Oakwell Hall volunteers help with the care of the hall and support visitors with informative history.
Oakwell Hall and grounds have been a popular filming location over the years, the hall was used as a filming location for ITV’s Wuthering Heights, and it is no wonder, because Charlotte Bronte also visited the stunning Elizabethan manor in her time and immortalised the hall as “Fieldhead” in her novel Shirley.
The BBC drama Gentleman Jack was also filmed here, along with other BBC dramas, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, as was as The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister.
The ITV Drama, Victoria, as well as the BBC TV series used Oakwell Hall as a filming location for their 2017 Gunpowder.
Nature Trail and Park Run
With many paths and routes to choose from, the country park is your oyster!
Walks can easily be created as you are there or take a peek at the maps dotted around the country park and follow the set walk of your choice. An interesting route to follow is the ‘Nature Trail,’ which also happens to be the ‘Park Run’ route.
This walk is perfect for little legs, with plenty of opportunities to rest them with a sit on one of the many benches. If you are wondering whether the trail is pushchair friendly, there are some steps along the way so it may not be so easy for those of you with pushchairs, but there are many other pathways you could follow to avoid the steps if you have a pushchair.
The Nature Trail walk is perfect even on those hot sunny days, with a good section of it being in the dappled shade of the trees through woodland.
When out of the shaded areas, the views are fabulous to see with plenty of opportunities for some photograph taking of the scenery a yonder.
One such viewpoint takes in the famous Emley Moor mast which can be seen in the distance. Those of you with good zoom lenses on your cameras will be able to get some good images from this spot with the masts in the distance.
Parking and entry cost
You are spoilt for choice with there being two car parks both of which are free, one is very close to the hall and cafe, the other is next to the play area with a clearly defined path leading to the hall, and entrance to Oakwell Hall is also free.
The visitor centre car park is usually open from 09.00 – 17.00 daily. The Bradford Road car park is open 24 hours a day.
There is a play area for the children right beside one of the car parks, with picnic benches for parents to soak up the sun on those sunny days, as the children play.
Nearby to the hall is a cafe and gift shop, perfect for cooling down after walking around the country park as well as the toilet facilities being nearby for ease of access.
On those hot sunny days, there is an ice cream van in both car parks, which is always welcomed by the children after they have exhausted themselves from playing.
Fiddlehead and Fernblades Sculpture
Another great spot for a pleasant view and photo opportunity is at the top of the country park, where there is a huge sculpture of some ferns, called the ‘Fiddlehead and Fernblades’ sculpture by Manchester artist, Adrian Moakes, which was officially launched on Sunday, October 19, 2008.
This sculpture stands at over six metres tall on Colliery Field on the land that was reclaimed from the former Gomersal Colliery.
The sculpture reflects the coal-forming carboniferous ferns that grew here millions of years ago, linking to the coal mining past and the ferns growing here in the present day, linking to the coal mining history of the site where the country park now stands.
The impressive sculpture replaced a sculpture made of oak which had been there since the 1980’s and was beginning to look a little tired.
The country park is an old colliery site, which employed over 360 workers in the 1960’s but closed in 1973.
There are still reminders of the coal mining industry throughout the country park to remind us of its history and the many coalminers who worked at the site.
There are many information boards around the country park with photographs of the several types of wildlife which may be spotted and the many varieties of trees, plants, and flowers; this is always a wonderful way to keep the children entertained and of course, to learn more about nature and wildlife as they walk and explore.
Nutter Lane, Birstall, West Yorkshire, WF17 9LG
Oakwell Hall is suitable for all year round visiting, seeing the beautiful scenery in all four seasons is always a sight which I enjoy, it is amazing how different one place can look throughout the year.
The Hall and parkland is a place of history and a stunning and interesting place for future generations to enjoy for free and to explore, it is well worth visiting whether for a park run, to entertain the kids or to see such a well looked after Elizabethan Hall where so many period dramas have been filmed, and to see where Charlotte Bronte took her inspiration for “Fieldhead” while writing her novel, Shirley.