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Visiting the house at Nostell

Visitors outside the 18th-century mansion at Nostell Priory
The 18th-century mansion at Nostell Priory | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Nostell is one of the great treasure houses of the north of England and home to countless treasures, stories and secrets.

A signifier of wealth and status

Built as an ambitious statement by the Winn family between 1725–1785, the house is a showcase for elegant and fashionable design. It was created not simply as a home, but also to send out an important message about the family's wealth and social status.

Today you can unravel the story of grand designs and unfinished masterpieces, discover the architects and craftsmen that created this Yorkshire show home and explore the collections you can see today.

Some of the most treasured items at Nostell include a world-class collection of Thomas Chippendale furniture and textiles, historic paintings, a Georgian dolls' house, Robert Adam interiors and a rare John Harrison clock.

The interior of the library at Nostell Priory showing a large desk and ornate bookcases on the walls
The library at Nostell | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

125 treasures

Nostell is proud to care for six of the National Trust’s 125 treasures. Step across the Georgian threshold and discover tales of design, drama and society with the help of a new treasure guide and house keeper’s room experience. All trails lead to treasure: iconic items at Nostell.

Master craftsman Thomas Chippendale’s monumental library desk takes centre stage in the room it was crafted for – an exquisite example of 18th century design and part of Nostell’s world-class Chippendale collection just waiting to be explored with fresh eyes.

Tales of trade, ambition and fortune unfold amid the intricate decoration of the ‘hongs’ punch bowl, newly displayed to reveal the secrets of a key chapter in global history.

Nostell’s rare 18th century dolls’ house has pride of place in its own bespoke exhibition room following a major conservation project to reawaken the beauty of its stunning interiors; from fine wall decoration and elaborate upholstery to working locks and tiny silverware.

The power of film unlocks hidden dimensions within one of Nostell’s most visually formidable treasures, the Thomas More painting, with a specially commissioned video revealing stories of its symbolism and how it came to be at Nostell.

A new assembly of five of Nostell’s most treasured paintings invites visitors to view several of history’s most iconic artists through a fresh lens, including a masterpiece by 18th century ‘global celebrity’ Angelica Kauffman capturing her moment of career choice between the arts of music and painting.

Hidden compartments add to the majesty of one of Nostell’s most elaborate treasures – a 17th century cabinet fit for a king. A place to hide precious objects, the piece is an example of French flamboyance possibly created by Pierre Gole, furniture maker to Louis XIV.

Nostell’s interiors

The design and décor of Nostell’s interiors are also a work of art in themselves. Over two generations, the Rose family of plasterers crafted superb plaster ceilings for the house. The vibrant Rococo designs of James Paine with motifs taken from nature were later joined by the more sober Neo-classical decoration of Robert Adam which used geometric shapes and ornament taken from Roman and Greek archaeology. See if you can spot the difference as you walk through the rooms of the house.

Behind the Walls exhibition

Visit the new exhibition to discover some of the human stories of 18th century Nostell, focusing on Sabine Winn, the Swiss lady of the house from 1765.

Behind the luxurious interiors and opulent collections, life inside Nostell was not as it seemed from the outside. Sabine experienced issues with her mental wellbeing back then that we can still relate to now.

Sabine lived at Nostell for 33 years having met her husband, Rowland in her home country, Switzerland before moving to England. Sadly, she was lacking confidence in communicating in English (she and her husband mostly spoke French to each other), she had limited experience of domestic management. Because of this she struggled to fulfil the expectations of the lady of the house including managing the servants. Rowland was frequently away from home on business meaning she spent most of her time alone.

It was a lonely, isolated life for Sabine. One way she tried to improve her health and wellbeing – and her family’s – was by making herbal medicines.

Behind the Walls exhibition takes a closer look at Sabine’s life, helping to tell the story of her time at Nostell and the challenges she faced.

Alongside the exhibition in the house, there’s a chance to find out about the herbs Sabine used to make potions and remedies, with the new Apothecary Trail in the kitchen gardens.

Person looking at exhibition in the house at Nostell
Things were not quite how they might have seemed in 18c Nostell | © Jo Reed
The exterior of the mansion at Nostell Priory and Parkland on a damp day in winter

Discover more at Nostell

Find out when Nostell is open, how to get here, things to see and do and more.

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Oil painting on canvas of Sir Rowland Winn and his wife Sabine Louise d'Hervart in the library at Nostell Priory, by Hugh Douglas Hamilton RHA

The history of Nostell 

Step back in time and discover the history of Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire, built by the Winn family to advance their social status.

Frost on the grass and trees in the parkland at Nostell

Exploring the estate at Nostell 

Follow the paths and tracks at Nostell to discover ancient woodland, an abundance of wildlife and rolling views across this enchanting Yorkshire landscape.

The rose garden at Nostell covered in a hard frost

Things to see in the gardens at Nostell 

Discover edible delights in the kitchen garden, unwind beside the orangery or escape to the menagerie garden before exploring the winding paths of the pleasure grounds.

A green and gold-japanned serpentine dressing table by Thomas Chippendale, part of the collection at Nostell in Yorkshire

Nostell's collection 

Learn about the fabulous furnishings, paintings by world-renowned artists, ornate plasterwork and rare examples of early nautical clocks among the collection at this opulent home.

A member of staff smiles as she pours steamed milk for a customer at the Courtyard Café at Nostell Priory

Eating and shopping at Nostell 

Visit the Courtyard Café with its range of seasonal treats, then head to the National Trust shop, where there’s a range of products inspired by the places we care for.

A group of people gardening at Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire

Volunteering opportunities at Nostell 

From conservation projects to keeping the garden spic and span through the seasons, there’s a lot to get involved in at 18th-century Nostell.

Large Christmas wreath in the garden at Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire

Houses and buildings 

Historic buildings are a treasure trove of stories, art and collections. Learn more about what makes these places so special and plan your visit.

The east front of Nostell Priory with blue sky above and green grass in the foreground.

Houses and buildings in Yorkshire 

Discover Yorkshire's history with visits to the grand halls of Nostell, East Riddlesden and Nunnington, while the ruins of Fountains Abbey will give you a different perspective.