The Dukeries, Welbeck Abbey
Of all the ducal properties in Sherwood Forest, Welbeck Abbey is the one with the most intrigue. Still a privately owned property by descendants of the Duke of Portland, the estate around the abbey is taking on an increasing role for visitors to the region.
So why does the abbey hold such interest? Well for a start, the fact that it is still in the hands of a ducal ancestors adds to the excitement, history and charm of links to the traditional English nobility. Also, because the estate has been used for several years by the Ministry of Defence, there has been very little public access to such a grand building.
If all this wasn’t enough, the history of Welbeck Abbey is enthralling. The first recorded evidence of an Abbey being in existence date back to the Domesday Book but it was after the Dissolution of the Monasteries that the estate took a new twist. It eventually found its way into the hands of the Bentinck family and the 2nd Duke of Portland in the 18th century.
The most eccentric episode came in the mid 19th century when it is said that the 5th Duke created a vast network of tunnels and chambers, stretching as far as Worksop. An almost legendary addition here was the underground ballroom which apparently stretches almost 50m long by 20m wide.
Although the fifth Duke of Portland developed the property, it was left to his heir in disrepair. The sixth Duke not only restored the abbey but bought it to the centre of Victorian and Edwardian aristocratic society. He often hosted the Prince of Wales right through until his death in 1943.
There are further developments around the estate too and the recent addition of the School of Artisan Foods located in the Riding Stables of the estate is a welcome sight. At the school you’ll get the chance to discover more about baking, butchery, cheese-making and more.
A recent exciting development is that you’ll also get the chance to visit the Abbey estate and see the house next year when the No Direction Home Festival comes to Nottinghamshire from 8-10 June 2012.
This family friendly festival spread over two days includes live music, comedy, literature and children’s workshops. For more information go to http://nodirectionhomefestival.com/.