Wollaton Hall is an Elizabethan country house of the 1580s standing on a small but prominent hill in Wollaton Park, Nottingham. The house is now Nottingham's Natural History Museum, with Nottingham Industrial Museum in the out-buildings. The surrounding parkland is home to a large herd of free-roaming deer, and is regularly used for large-scale outdoor events such as rock concerts, sporting events and festivals.
Construction on Wollaton Hall begins, designed by the Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson. He had recently completed work on Longleat (Wiltshire) and would go on to build Hardwick Hall (Derbyshire). The property is built for industrialist and coal owner Sir Francis Willoughby.
The property is completed. This was the same year in which the Spanish Armada was defeated and William Shakespeare presented his first play in London.
Cassandra Willoughby, Duchess of Chandos recorded that the master masons, and some of the statuary, were brought from Italy including the decorative but ludicrous gondola mooring rings carved in stone on the exterior walls.
Fire damages the original interior of the house and it is remodelled by Jeffry Wyattville, a prominent garden and architectural designer who worked on Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.
The Willoughby’s leave Wollaton
The house was still owned by the head of the Willoughby family, Digby Willoughby, 9th Baron Middleton, but by then it was “too near the smoke and busy activity of a large manufacturing town”.
City of Nottingham Purchase
The hall was bought by Nottingham City Council who looked to open it the public.
Opened as Natural History Museum
The hall was opened as a natural history museum where upon it became home to George the gorilla, Hilary the hippopotamus and Geoffrey the giraffe.
The hall reopens in April after being closed for two years of refurbishment. The prospect room at the top of the house, and the kitchens in the basement, are now opened up for the public to visit. You can visit these on one of our daily tours.
Splendour Festival takes place for the first time in the Wollaton Hall grounds. It will become an annual event in the Nottingham calendar and has bought bands such as Madness, Pet Shop Boys, Blondie, Kaiser Chiefs, Jake Bugg, The Specials and Dizzee Rascal to the city.
Wollaton Hall stars as Wayne Manor in the Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises. Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are all on set. The Hall is five miles north of Gotham, Nottinghamshire where Gotham City got its name.
Dinosaurs of China Exhibition
Dinosaurs of China arrived at Wollaton Hall for a fantastic summer of a world exclusive exhibition!