Celebrations at Nostell as National Trust turns 125 years old

The charity that owns one of the most stunning attractions in Wakefield is marking a milestone this year.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 10:19 am
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 10:20 am

The National Trust – which includes Nostell as part of its vast collection of properties and parkland – is 125.

Nostell belonged to several generations of the Winn family and the National Trust first became involved with the property in the 1950s, playing a more prominent role in the 1990s.

The trust’s curator Simon McCormack said the two were a perfect fit.

The charity that owns one of the most stunning attractions in Wakefield is marking a milestone this year.

He said: “Around the time the National Trust was established Nostell was in its heyday.

“There was an upsurge in the Winn family’s fortunes in part due to the mining industry.

“The house was going through a period of redevelopment and expansion. At the time the Winn family were looking into the history of the site.

He said it was a “golden age” for the English country house with many built around the time with new money from industry.

Nostells 260-year-old dolls house is currently undergoing a 100,000 restoration.

Since the trust became involved with Nostell work has been done on “boring but necessary” tasks like resurfacing and installing fire alarms.

Other work included “sensitively” adapting aspects of the house to cater to guests and restoring the stables.

And the one of the site’s most prized treasures will be put back on display in around two months’ time.

Nostell’s 260-year-old dolls’ house is currently undergoing a £100,000 restoration.

There are less than a dozen of its kind left and it is the most detailed and authentic surviving example.

Mr McCormack said: “It is a great window on the past and one of the most important artefact’s that the trust has.

“It’s thanks to our supporters that we have been able to raise the funds to restore it.”

Nostell’s name derives from an Augustinian priory dedicated to St Oswald, which was later dissolved under Henry VIII.

A gothic house subsequently built on the priory site known as Nostell Hall was pulled down to be replaced by the house we know today, which welcomes more than 70,000 visitors every year. It was commissioned in 1729 by the Winn family, minor gentry who acquired the site as part of their plans for economic and social progression.

Sir Rowland Winn, the 4th baronet, having returned from the Grand Tour in 1729, commissioned the present house in 1733.

The plans, based on Palladio’s Villa Mocenigo and thought to have been formulated by the amateur architect Colonel James Moyser, were executed, with alterations, by the English architect James Paine between 1735 and 1750.

In the 1760s the 5th Baronet engaged the Scottish architect and designer Robert Adam to complete the interiors.

Site dates back 800 years

The original priory from which Nostell took its name was at the site from around 1120 until 1540,when it was surrendered as part of King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. It was home to 26 canons, 77 servants and skilled artisans.

The current rose garden was created in 1920, but an original outdoor garden area was first created in the 1770s along with an orchard, followed by an orangerie in the 1790s to protect orange trees imported from Switzerland.

During World War II the house was used by the Royal Artillery as a training based for new recruits.