From an Augustinian priory to a family home, Nostell has a heritage rich in aristocratic ambition and upstairs-downstairs endeavours. Help us ensure the future of our special place by discovering our past.
The name Nostell Priory refers to an Augustinian priory founded on the site in the early 12th-century, dedicated to St Oswald (an Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria). After flourishing for over 400 years the priory was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1540, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After various owners Nostell was eventually sold to the Winn family in 1654, with whom it has remained ever since.
For three generations the Winns lived in what had been part of the old priory. Sir Rowland Winn (3rd Baronet) added a new stable block before his death in 1722, but it was his son, Sir Rowland Winn (4th Baronet) who built a modern house.
Timeline: Early years
1122: The foundations for the Augustan Priory of St Oswald’s are laid
1200s: Records indicate that there were 26 canons and 77 servants at the priory
1540: The priory is surrendered to Henry VIII and granted to Dr Thomas Leigh
1567: Sir Thomas Gargrave settles at Nostell
1613: Estate sold to William Ireland
1629: Estate sold to Sir John Wolstenholme, one of Charles I's tax collectors, for £10,000
1654: Winns buy Nostell after Wolstenholme is declared bankrupt
The new priory
Sir Rowland Winn (4th Baronet) inherited Nostell in 1722 at the age of 16. After his Grand Tour he returned to Nostell in 1727 and, inspired what he had seen on his travels, commissioned plans for an ambitious new house from the local gentleman architect Colonel James Moyser.
The House was designed in the fashionable Palladian style, intended to be a symbol of Rowland’s wealth and fashionable taste. In 1736 Rowland employed the young James Paine to bring Moyser’s plans to life. Paine made considerable changes to Moyser’s original plans and continued to work for the 4th Baronet on and off for the next 30 years.
1727: Rowland returns from Grand Tour fuelled with ideas for a new house
1729: Rowland marries the heiress Susanna Henshaw
1729: Colonel Moyers commissioned to design a new house
1736: James Paine employed to begin building work
1747: Work on the interior decorations begin
1765: Rowland dies
1767: Plans of the house published in the supplement to the Vitruvius Britannicus
Rowland Winn (5th Baronet) inherited Nostell Priory in 1765 at the age of 26. Rather than asking James Paine to continue working on the house he instead employed the up and coming Robert Adam. Adam started work on the interior of the house in 1766 and over the next 10 years created a magnificent series of rooms, starting with the Library and progressing to the Tapestry Room, Saloon and Top Hall.
Alongside Adam worked the painter Antonio Zucchi, the plasterer, Joseph Rose the Younger and cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale. Work on the house came to a sudden halt when the 5th Baronet was killed in a carriage accident on the road to London. The building project was left incomplete and vast sums of money were owed to Adam, Chippendale and Zucchi.
Only a handful of dolls’ houses have survived from the 18th century and Nostell’s is the only one you can see still in its original family home. An intricately crafted masterpiece with a unique connection to its life-sized surroundings, this is a grand mansion in perfect miniature.
Discover edible delights in the Kitchen Garden, relax in the Rose Garden and escape to a magical world in the Menagerie Garden before meandering along the winding paths of the Pleasure Grounds in the footsteps of the Georgians.