Edit: I had technological difficulties so the next few posts will be up back to back, but occur over the past few weeks.
While awaiting my financial aid and scholarships to make its way to me, I decided that more cost effective options were my best bet. I, of course, thought that exploring my new home of Nottingham itself was the best option. I trekked through the city center for the best cafes, finally got the hang of the tram (although the bus system is a whole another beast), and realized my love for Poundland (the equivalent of Dollar Tree). With a free weekend and my jet lag finally wearing down, I needed to see some actual sites.
Wollaton Hall, luckily for me, is located right behind the University of Nottingham and was the perfect place to see when the rain finally let up. It sits in the middle of Deer Park, therefore from central campus it’s roughly a 30-40 minute walk to the building itself. A new friend and I, without knowing any history of the place, set out to explore the grounds. What we found was quite different than anticipated.
When first arriving you have go through a gate thats connected to a large wall, something we learned thats now used as a way to stop deer from dashing into the road. Apparently, hence the name, deer are quite abundant. Unfortunately we didn’t see even one. Anyway, we trekked up a muddied path through trees until we say the hall sitting atop a large hill surrounded by gardens. Out front sat an emptied fountain (pictured below) as well as a green house where many were just sitting having tea and talking.
The outside was absolutely beautiful. Being built in the late 1500’s it still seemed in great shape. Their site refers to it as a Grade I Elizabethan Mansion and was owned greatly by the Willoughby family. Their money came primarily from coal production and builders of the house were even paid with the rocks at times. Their family owned it until the early 1900s when the Nottingham Council bought it. The last Willoughby owner apparently thought the industrial town around it was too much and only . ever let out to tenants in the 1800s. An extra fun fact, for those that are fans, it was also featured in The Dark Knight movie, being seen as Waynes Manor.
The inside was a bit more confusing. We expected to go in and learn about the family and building history of Wollaton Hall. What we found instead was a Natural History Museum. The bottom floor, that was accessible, was set up much like the past and had a sign here and there explaining an object. The main action was upstairs. There we found rooms and rooms of taxidermy? Most were from African origin and sat in cases and faux walls that completely covered the original interior. One room was even filled with fossils and and crystals, none of which that had description signs. Apparently they were currently under construction, but the hall had been a Natural History Museum since the mid 1900’s. Therefore dead animals were normal as a stage front.
It was definitely an interesting experience and I would love to go back to Deer Park in the summer for some picnics. Will I tour the Wollaton Hall itself again? Honestly most likely if I have any visiting friends. When something is free and is created to promote learning, honestly you can’t really complain. Nottingham is quite small and it’s a top attraction with the castle being closed apparently. By myself though I can say I’ve had my fill of stuffed lobsters.