Sunset tour at Wollaton Hall: Culture24 on the road for Museums at Night 2010

By Patrick Dandy | 15 May 2010
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a photograph of an old mansion lit up at night

Wollaton Hall at night. © Culture24

Culture24 reporters have been hitting the road this weekend to report on Museums at Night events right across the UK. Here Patrick Dandy takes a look at Wollaton Hall after dark.

'Houses such as this were built to show off!' says Mick Whysall, one of our three museum guides on the tour, and this impressive Elizabethan mansion was certainly a success.

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Group admiring mural by James Thornhill. © Culture24

Wollaton Hall is an interesting place to visit at any time, but an evening tour gives the house a special and intimate atmosphere. This is especially true of the grand Prospect Room from which, even when deprived of a sunset on this particular evening, there are panoramic views of the picturesque park and Nottingham itself.

Although the room is sparse inside our guide Mick points out that the outside of the house was of 'primary importance', hence the uncomfortable interior.

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Mick Whysall, museum guide, in the Prospect Room. © Culture24

Another highlight is the walk along the roof, again providing spectacular views, including a vantage point over the British Red Deer that live within the park, which we are told are wild and have existed here since before the creation of the Hall in the 1580s.

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Mick Whysall giving details about Thornhill mural. © Culture24

The advantage of small informal tours like this are the gems of historical information which you might not discover on your own, such as that of the Elizabethans who, after drinking one too many beverages, found themselves plummeting over the roof's edge.

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Visitors going up one of Wollaton Hall's many beautiful staircases. © Culture24

In the words of tonight's speakers, the aim of tours such as this is to bring the idea of the British country house 'back to life'. With such enthusiastic and well-informed guides, and the unique ambience an evening visit provides, it certainly gives Wollaton Hall a new lease of life.

Feedback - how was it for you?

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Helen, 30: "I found the tour more informal and less restrictive which allows you to get more out of the experience...it's free flowing, interactive, and I liked the way the three speakers chipped in with various interesting stories."

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Paul, 54: "I saw a poster for this event whilst walking my dogs in the park...the great thing about these tours is getting to hear the interesting backstories, and seeing more of the house than you would normally be able to."

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Michael, 28: "I'm from the area so I've been to Wollaton Hall a number of times, but a tour such as this lets you get behind the scenes and each time you see this place you see something new."

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Museums at Night events are happening right across the weekend until May 16. Check out the Museums at Night homepage to find out what's going on near you.

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