Nostell Priory – Country House, Chippendale and Coal

West Yorkshire Archive Service is delighted to announce that it has been awarded a grant of £37,000 from the National Cataloguing Grants Fund to complete and improve the catalogue of the archives of the Winn family, Barons St Oswald of Nostell Priory.

This is the premier family and estate collection for Wakefield district held by the Service, and as the National Cataloguing Grants Fund said in its press release – “The collections funded represent some of the most fundamental and fascinating archival holdings in Britain: the records of businesses, families, religious and arts organisations which are at the heart of understanding significant parts of our national story”.

In 2011, the Archive Service held a public vote in each district on the collection considered to be a “Treasure of the Archives”. The Nostell collection easily won in Wakefield district with 40.73% of the vote (the runner up only receiving 24.5%). 

Recipe for 'Pea Soop'. Ref :WYL1352/C4/8/2

Recipe for ‘Pea Soop’. Ref :WYL1352/C4/8/2

The collection is a rich source of information about the involvement of the Winn family and their architects and craftsmen in the building, furnishing and management of the house and its estate.

Nostell Priory is regarded by furniture historians and others very much as a flagship country house. It has magnificent plasterwork interiors by Robert Adam and James Paine, and has an outstanding collection of Chippendale furniture, made specifically for the house 1766-1776. Many bills and letters have survived relating to Adam, Paine and Chippendale, but further cataloguing of them is needed.

There are also personal papers of the Winn family dating from about 1610 to 1999. Over the past four centuries the Winns have played a significant local role as landowners and coal owners, as political leaders and holders of public office, as employers, patrons and benefactors, and as a focus of local society.  The collection also includes manorial records from 1605 to 1745, and estate records dating as far back as 1215, when King John confirmed an earlier grant of Nostell to the Priory of St Oswald.

The estate records document the lives of thousands of local people who lived and worked on the Nostell estates, and present an often-overlooked picture of the local rural economy which pre-dated, and later co-existed with an industrial economy based on coal-mining. When fully listed, these records will complement the Service’s other extensive holdings relating to coal mining in West Yorkshire. 

The project will last for a year and the Service will be working closely with the National Trust at Nostell Priory, the Chippendale Society and other partners.

For further information on the project or on the collection, please contact the Collections Team on or telephone 0113 3939767


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