- West Yorkshire
- | 01924 863892
- | www.nationaltrust.org.uk
- Free entry with National Art Pass.
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Built on the site of a 12th-century priory in West Yorkshire, Nostell Priory is an elegant 18th-century Palladian mansion set in hundreds of acres of parkland.
Designed and built by James Paine, Robert Adam was later brought in to complete the state rooms and add additional wings. The home of the Winn family for over 300 years, much of the house - from bedrooms to the butler's pantry - is now available to the public, furnished for the most part with original pieces that include an unparalleled collection of Chippendale furniture made especially for Nostell.
Nostell is best known for the elegance of its architecture, set off by the gilded generosity of its interiors. Among the finest of its furnishings are the lacquered pieces of Chippendale, of which the most elaborate is the imposing Library table. The Top Hall, intended as the main entrance and hub of Nostell, is currently furnished with authentic 18th-century fittings, including a striking colza-oil chandelier. Robert Adam's ceilings command attention throughout the house, but perhaps most lovely is the delicate portrayal of Cupid and Pysche in the Tapestry Room, framed in a geometric design.
Comprising more than 4000 books, Nostell is one of the finest National Trust libraries. Housed in the panelled room remodelled in 1766 by Adam and still containing its original Chippendale furniture, it is made up of four smaller collections, united by Charles Winn in the 19th century.
As well as paintings by Angelica Kauffmann, William Hogarth and the Rowland Lockey's copy of Holbein's lost painting of Sir Thomas More and his family, Nostell's treasures include a longcase clock by John Harrison, and an extraordinarily detailed 18th-century doll's house, furnished down to textiles and cutlery.
Art Funded works
William Hogarth's Scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest, Ferdinand Paying court to Miranda, (funded in 2002) is notable as the first known painting of a scene from Shakespeare. Presented in the manner of a history painting, this one-off work was the result of a commission from Hogarth's loyal patron The Earl of Macclesfield.
Saved for Nostell through an Art Fund campaign, The Procession to Calvary is considered one of the finest surviving works by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Christ is relocated by the artist to a contemporary Flemish landscape, his slow procession to Calvary (seen in the top right of the canvas) rendered in minute detail.
Set in 300 acres of parkland, a visit to Nostell is not complete without a walk among its landscaped grounds. There is a large lake, forming the centrepiece of walks that take in not only the estate's woodlands and wildflower meadows but also spectacular collections of rhododendrons and azaleas. You can visit the newly restored Obeslisk Lodge as well as Druid's bridge, and for younger visitors there is the rather more contemporary inducement of an adventure playground.
The courtyard at Nostell now houses a new restaurant serving a selection of simple hot and cold meals. In the summer you can eat outside (within calling range of the playground) or picnic in the grounds. There is also a shop selling the usual National Trust selection of books, gifts and educational toys.