The House from "Morris's County Seats," circa 1875.
Built / Designed For: Sir Francis Willoughby
House & Family History: One of the great Elizabethan prodigy houses, Wollaton was built by the Willoughbys (later lords Middleton), an old Nottinghamshire family. The plan was taken from one of Serlio's books on architecture, to which Smythson added his own adornments. The work of Vredeman de Vries inspired many of the architectural details, such as the strapwork gables. The House cost the enormous sum of £80,000 to build in 1588 (approximately £247 million in 2016 inflation-adjusted values using the labour value commodity index) and took eight years to complete. Wollaton was sold by the Willoughby family to Nottingham Council in 1924 (Birdsall House in Yorkshire had been the family's principal seat since the early 19th century); today the House is the Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum. Between 2000 and 2007 the House underwent a £9 million restoration that returned much of its original splendor after years of institutional use. The money for the restoration came from international, national, and local sources and included £1.5 million that was spent on the restoration of the Camellia House. The famous Prospect Room, with its mid-18th century plasterwork and trompe l'oeil canvas pelmets, was beautifully brought back to life as part of the early 21st century restoration. The Banqueting Rooms in the towers (similar to those at Hardwick Hall) are only accessible via the roof using a spiral staircase. A famous bird's eye view painting of Wollaton by Jan Siberechts, 1697, is today in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.
Comments: Wollaton is one of the finest Elizabethan houses in England and is frequently called one of the architectural wonders of Elizabethan England.
Garden & Outbuildings: Wollaton is set today (2012) in 500 acres of grounds three miles west of Nottingham city center. Lenton Lodge, the former eastern gatehouse on Derby Road, now detached from the Hall and Park by urban housing, was restored 2006-08 by Chek Whyte Industries and sold as a 3,324 sq ft office. In the early 21st century £1.5 million was spent on the restoration of the Camellia House.
Architect: Jeffry Wyatville (Wyattville) (Wyatt)Date: 1801
Architect: Jeffry Wyatville (Wyattville) (Wyatt)Date: 1822-23
Architect: Jeffry Wyatville (Wyattville) (Wyatt)Date: 1823-24
John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. III, 1820.
Country Life: XLI, 544, 568, 592, 1917.
Title: Cornerstone: The Magazine of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
Year Published: NA
Reference: Vol 27, No. 1, 2006, pg. 53
Publisher: London: The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
Book Type: Magazine
Title: V&A Guide to Period Styles: 400 Years of British Art and Design, The
Author: Jackson, Anna; Hinton, Morna
Year Published: 2002
Reference: pg. 15
Publisher: London: V&A Publications
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney
Author: Warner, Malcolm; Asleson, Robyn
Year Published: 2001
Reference: pg. 63
Publisher: New Haven: Yale Center for British Art
Book Type: Softback
Title: Hardwick Hall Guidebook
Author: Girouard, Mark
Year Published: 1996
Publisher: London: The National Trust
Book Type: Softback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Past Seat of: Sir Francis Willoughby, 1st Bt., 17th century; Francis Willoughby, 3rd Baron Middleton, 18th century; Willoughby family here from 1588 until 1924.
Current Ownership Type: Government
Primary Current Ownership Use: Museum
Ownership Details: Owned by Nottingham City Council and operated as Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum.