Nostell Priory: A Stately Home with a Fascinating History

Categorized as Travel
nostell priory

From its origins as a medieval priory to its transformation into a magnificent Georgian mansion, Nostell Priory has played a significant role in British history. With its impressive architecture, landscaped gardens, and impressive art collection, this stately home offers a unique glimpse into the lives of the wealthy and influential families who once resided there. 

Nestled in the heart of West Yorkshire, just a short drive from Wakefield is the stunning Nostell Priory. This grand stately home has a fascinating history that spans several centuries, and today it is a popular tourist attraction that draws visitors from all over the world. Join us as we take a closer look at the rich history and cultural significance of Nostell Priory. 

The History of Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory was built in the 18th century by the Winn family, who were wealthy landowners in the area. The house was designed by the famous architect James Paine, and it is a fine example of Georgian architecture. 

The Winn family were keen collectors of art and antiques, and they filled Nostell Priory with some of the finest works of art of the time. The house became famous for its collection of Chippendale furniture, which is still on display today.

During the Second World War, Nostell Priory was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers, and it was later used as a girls’ school. 

What to See at Nostell Priory

There is so much to see at Nostell Priory that it’s hard to know where to start! The house itself is a masterpiece of Georgian architecture, with stunning rooms and beautiful gardens. The Chippendale furniture is a particular highlight, and visitors can see some of the most famous pieces in the collection, including the State Bed and the Library Desk.

The gardens at Nostell Priory are also well worth a visit. They were designed by the famous landscape gardener Humphry Repton, and they are a wonderful example of English country garden design. The gardens feature a lake, woodland walks, and a walled garden with a wide variety of plants and flowers.

gardens at Nostell Priory

For those interested in history, there is also a fascinating exhibition at Nostell Priory about the house’s use during the Second World War. The exhibition includes photographs and memorabilia from the time, and it gives visitors an insight into what life was like for the wounded soldiers who were treated at the house.

Events at Nostell Priory

Throughout the year, Nostell Priory hosts a wide range of events and activities for visitors of all ages. These include guided tours of the house and gardens, craft workshops, outdoor theatre performances, and children’s activities.

One of the highlights of the year at Nostell Priory is the Christmas season. The house is decorated with traditional festive decorations, and visitors can enjoy a range of activities, including carol singing, craft workshops, and visits from Santa Claus himself.

Getting to Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory is easily accessible by car or public transport. It is just a few miles from the M1 motorway, and there is plenty of parking available on site. If you prefer to travel by public transport, there are regular bus services from Wakefield and Leeds, and the nearest train station is in Wakefield.

Visiting Nostell Priory

If you’re planning a visit to Nostell Priory, it’s worth checking the opening times and admission prices before you go. The house and gardens are open from March to November, and there is a small admission fee for adults. Children and National Trust members can enter for free.

Things To Do At Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory stately home

Nostell Priory is a stately home with a rich history and plenty of things to do and see. One of the best spots to unwind at the property is the Orchard Meadow, a hidden gem located beyond the kitchen garden. This peaceful area is perfect for taking a break, relaxing, and admiring the back of the stables building.

Another great area to explore is the rose garden, which is situated directly behind the stables. When the roses are in full bloom, the vibrant colours complement the yellow tones of the building. On the far side of the gardens, you’ll find a stunning 100m red brick wall adorned with an impressive climbing iceberg rose for the full length, making it feel like stepping into ‘The Secret Garden’.

The Menagerie House is another intriguing spot to visit at Nostell Priory. Built-in the 18th century, it was originally intended as the keepers’ home and a garden room for entertaining guests. Although the building isn’t open today, it’s still worth checking out for its whimsical appearance and fairytale-like charm.

As you explore Nostell Priory, don’t miss the Gothic Arch, which was the original entrance to the Menagerie Gardens. Built between 1759 and 1761 on the site of a medieval quarry, it makes for an interesting sight while visiting Nostell and is even home to a few roosting bats.

In addition to these areas, there are plenty of other things to do at Nostell Priory that are free to visitors. You can take a stroll around the Middle Lake and Lower Lake, where you might encounter a family of swans and their cygnets. You can also enjoy the grounds, walk to the Obelisk, explore Joiner’s Wood, and even grab lunch at the cafe before you leave. With so much to see and do, Nostell Priory is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, gardens, and stately homes.

Remember, on days when the house is closed, you can pay a reduced fee for just the gardens. Entry is free for National Trust members.


Nostell Priory is a fascinating stately home with a rich history and architectural beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world. From its origins as a religious house to its transformation into a grand country residence, Nostell Priory has stood the test of time and remains a stunning example of English architecture and design. Its gardens and parkland provide a peaceful escape, while the interior of the house offers a glimpse into the lives of the families who have called Nostell Priory home throughout the centuries. Whether you are a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique and memorable day out, It is definitely worth a visit.

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Amanda Mills

By Amanda Mills

I am a marketing communication and administrative professional with over 5+ years of experience. My experience encompasses strategic marketing, office administration, public speaking, blogging, and creative content.