Nestled in the heart Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Welbeck extends to some 15,000 acres, straddling the borders of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
It sits within an area known as the Dukeries. It gets this name from the four historic neighbouring ducal seats - Welbeck, Clumber, Thoresby, and Worksop Manor. At their height, together they covered 88,000 acres which gave the Dukeries at the time the qualities of a self-contained world.
During its long history the Welbeck estate has welcomed politicians, dignitaries and royalty and has played a role in major milestones in the country’s history.
Welbeck Abbey, within the heart of the estate, was initially founded as a monastery in 1153. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the Abbey was bought by Bess of Hardwick’s youngest son, Sir Charles Cavendish. It has since passed through the family and became the country seat to a succession of Dukes of Portland. Family members included the 3rd Duke of Portland, who was twice Prime Minister.
Each generation has made its mark on the estate. Not more so than the 5th Duke of Portland - most famously known as the ‘burrowing duke.’ He was responsible for commissioning an extraordinary range of buildings as well as a network of tunnels below the estate.
He was also the man behind the creation of the estate’s kitchen gardens - the biggest in Britain – and the development of one of the largest riding schools in the world. It was second only to one in Moscow.
- To find out more about Welbeck's history, visit The Portland Collection museum within the Courtyard. Alternatively, why not join one of Welbeck Abbey State Room Tours, which take place each summer?
Welbeck continues to be a working estate. It contains a Grade 2 registered historic park designed in 1748, ancient woodlands and forestry, lakes, farmland and grazing and a deer park. It also has some of the country’s most important rural heritage buildings.
The Welbeck Estates Company Limited manages the extensive land as well as its residential and commercial properties. It has ambitious plans for the future. The Welbeck Project is a long-term plan to build a strong creative and sustainable community where people can both live and work.
While the estate looks much as it did in the 19th century, behind the doors of its extraordinary heritage buildings are a community of artisan food producers, artists, makers and businesses.
Life on the estate doesn’t stand still and it continues to evolve. While Welbeck exudes a sense of history and permanence, it has always adapted and developed to enable it to thrive into the future.