|If you are a visitor to this area you may be surprised by the number of vast country estates that are in close proximity to each other. In the late 17th century, parts of the Royal Hunting Forest of Sherwood were carved up and the land transferred to powerful aristocrats – most of whom were Dukes – who built grand country houses and developed stunning landscaped gardens. For this reason, the area between Ollerton and Worksop is known as ‘The Dukeries’.
All the families that owned these estates were inter-related and the story of their lives is fascinating to learn about - from the reclusive 5th Duke of Portland who built tunnels under Welbeck Abbey, to the cause celébre of the 18th century - the trial for bigamy of Elizabeth Chudleigh, who married both the 2nd Duke of Kingston (Thoresby Hall) and Lord Hervey, who became the third Earl of Bristol.
Welbeck Abbey and Worksop Manor are still privately owned and are not publicly accessible. However Clumber Park and Rufford Abbey, owned by the National Trust and Nottinghamshire County Council respectively, are both open to the public. Although Thoresby Estate is owned by Warner Holidays, non-residents can enjoy the Park, Courtyard, and some of the some of the restaurants/café facilities in the Hall.