Part of the Ilkeston Cam "Days Out" Series

Rufford Abbey Country Park Part 01 - Near The Abbey
w/e 30 November 2008

All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Lime Tree Avenue

Rufford Abbey Country Park lies just south of Ollerton in Nottinghamshire to the east of the main A614 road that marks its western boundary. There are two large car parks and we parked in the one to the left of this image at the southern end of the park. Visitors to the Abbey from the Western Lodge entrance in days gone by would no doubt have approached through the gates in the distance and along Lime Tree Avenue.
Stable Block Arch

At the end of Lime Tree Avenue are the remains of the abbey and this building which was the former stable block of the country house that came after the abbey. It now houses the Craft Centre and includes Britain's first Ceramics Centre and a Gallery where exhibitions are staged. The decoration above the arch and the banner are purely temporary additions during this festive season.

Passing through the arch leads to a small courtyard again attractively decorated in festive style where access can be gained not only to the Craft Centre but also a Visitor Information Centre plus a Gift Shop where a wide range of souvenirs may be purchased.
The Orangery

Beyond the courtyard is the Coach House Cafe - we can vouch for the coffee - and a little further on is the Bath House and Orangery. The Bath House had an open pool down the centre of the building with steps leading into the water at the foreground of this image. When it was converted to the Orangery, the pool was covered over with decorative tiles but it has now been sympathetically restored to preserve the history and major features of the building. The 1995 restoration allowed for the creation of the Apsidal Gallery at the far end which feature a changing display of outdoor sculptures and large scale ceramics.

The Orangery Information Boards.

A series of information boards detail the history from its origins as a Bath House in 1730 with an open pool, through a glass-roofed Orangery in 1889 to its current appearance since 1995.

Although still referred to as Rufford Abbey, the days of the abbey are long since gone being another victim of Henry VIII in 1534. The land containing a "rugforde" or rough ford had been gifted to Cistercian monks by a relative of William the Conqueror in 1146 but after the Dissolution, it was granted in 1537 to the Talbots, one of the richest families in Tudor England. Alterations were undertaken to part of the abbey and by 1590 it had become a house and hunting lodge and in 1626, it passed through marriage to the Savile family from Yorkshire. The name of the family is perpetuated in the Savile Restaurant which is just visible here in the shadow of the wall on the left as we left the Orangery.
Formal Gardens

Turning away from the abbey though we entered an area of formal gardens that include a Sculpture Garden, a Children's Garden and a Maze. At the moment and until mid-December the gardens are hosting "Aurora - a stunning garden lighting display"and the gardens will be open in the evenings when the displays will be seen to their best effect. Even in bright sunshine though, this display was quite striking.
Dragon Gateway

Another striking feature nearby is the entrance to the "Play Village" where you are invited to enter through the dragon gateway into an imaginary world.
Play Village

The sign at the entrance also asks "Is it a Castle? A Secret Hideout? An Ancient Village?" We decided we were a little too old to enter the village so passed by and headed for the Lakeside Walk. From here we would pass the Long Meadow and Rufford Lake to the ford at Rufford Mill and then return to the abbey via Broad Ride which is the route we will follow in Part 2.

Forward to Part 02

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