Welbeck Abbey
Welbeck Abbey near Clumber Park in North Nottinghamshire was the principal abbey of the Premonstratensian order in England and later the principal residence of the Dukes of Portland.

Monastic period
The Abbey's estate was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, where it is recorded as belonging to one Hugh FitzBaldric. Thomas de Cuckney founded a religious house there in 1140. It was an abbey of Premonstratensian canons, dedicated to St James the Great. The abbey was enriched by liberal gifts from the Goushills, D’Eyncourts, Bassets, and other families of Nottinghamshire; and it also received a considerable grant from King Edward I. In 1393 the abbey came under serious investigation by King Richard II. Pardon to William Broun of Norton by Welbeck of suit of the King’s peace for felonies, treasons and other offences under the following circumstances: Robert Veel, keeper of the rolls of the King’s Bench, and John Wynchecombe, appointed by the king to take carts for the carriage of the rolls, being directed on Saturday before the feast of St Katherine last by Walter Clopton, Chief Justice, and other justices to carry the said rolls from Y ork to Nottingham, where upon by reason of excessive rainfall affecting the roads, they could not without additional horses reach Nottingham, where upon by virtue of their commission and the justices order they took at Norton aforesaid two horses of John Levet and John Turnour of Norton, to be paid for in due course. There upon the said William Broun, John Northeryn, Robert Bocher, all of Norton, and Hugh Matt, servant of John Baukwell, Abbot of Welbeck, with divers other evil doers came armed with bows and arrows, sticks and swords, and at dusk of the same day raised all the men of Norton to insurrection, pursued the said Robert and John to Warsop and instigated by Simon de Castleton, canon of Welbeck, and John Worsop, vicar of Cuckney and canon of Welbeck, assaulted them, shot at and pierced the books in the carriage and took the horses, and would have carried the same away but that by the grace of God and their help they made too good a defence. With so much wealth at his disposal, the Abbot of Welbeck was an influential man, and in 1512 all the houses of the order in England were placed under his care. In 1538, the abbot, Richard Bentley was awarded a pension of £50 (£21,202 as of 2011), , and the 17 canons received pensions of between £40 and £4 (£16,962 as of 2011), and (£1,696 as of 2011), a year.

Abbots of Welbeck Abbey

Country house
At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the site was granted by Henry VIII to Richard Whalley, of Screveton. After being owned by a City of London clothier, the abbey was purchased by Gilbert, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury for the sum of £555 6s 6d (£84,560 as of 2011), , in 1599, and then sold to Sir Charles Cavendish, son of Bess of Hardwick in 1607. It then passed to Sir Charles's son William Cavendish, later first Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne. Members of the Cavendish family converted it into a country house and added a riding house in the 17th century to the design of Robert Smythson and his son John Smythson. Only a few basements and inner walls were retained from the original fabric of the former Abbey buildings. Welbeck became the principal family seat of the early Dukes of Newcastle. In the 18th century, it passed through an heiress into the Bentinck family and became the main seat of the Earls and Dukes of Portland. The 5th Duke of Portland undertook what are considered the most substantial building works at Welbeck. The kitchen gardens covered 22 acres (89,000 m 2) and were surrounded by high walls with recesses behind them in which braziers could be placed to hasten the ripening of fruit. One of the walls, a peach wall, measured over 1,000 feet (300 m) in length. An immense new riding house was built which was 396' long, 108' wide and 50' high and which enclosed a tan gallop of 422 yards (386 m). It was lit by 4,000 gas jets.

There was a tunnel over one thousand yards in length, leading from the house to the riding school and wide enough for several people to walk side by side. Parallel to this tunnel was another, more roughly constructed, which was used by workmen. A longer and more elaborate tunnel, one and a half miles long and intended as a carriage drive broad enough for two carriages to pass, led towards Worksop. This was abandoned in the late nineteenth century when the section of the tunnel forming part of the lake dam failed. Remaining stretches of tunnel survive on either side of the lake. The sites of skylights can be seen from the Robin Hood Way footpath which follows the course of the tunnel, and a masonry tunnel entrance can be seen between two lodges at the northeastern limit of the park. The 5th Duke also excavated underground chambers. The largest is a great hall, 160 feet (49 m) long and 63 feet (19 m) wide and originally intended as a chapel, then used as a picture gallery and occasionally as a ballroom. There is also a suite of five adjacent rooms constructed to house the Duke's Library. Although often cited as being "underground", these apartments are strictly "below ground", as they are not covered by earth or lawn; the flat roofs and skylights are visible in aerial photographs, although at ground level they are concealed from most directions by shrubbery. The Duke also made many alterations to the house above ground. A vast amount of plumbing was done with elaborate new bathrooms made and a great many new pipes laid. New lodges were built at different entrances to the Park. This work cost prodigious sums and involved the employment of thousands of men - masons, bricklayers, joiners, plumbers, navvies etc. While there were disputes from time to time (wages, hours, etc.) the Duke personally got on very well with his employees and earned the nickname 'the workman's friend'. He created employment in the district both for the skilled and the unskilled.

Disrepair and restoration
By 1879 Welbeck was in a state of disrepair. The only rooms habitable were the four or five rooms used by the 5th Duke in the west wing. All the rooms were painted pink, with parquet floors, all bare and without furniture, except that almost every room had a 'convenience' in the corner. The House was repaired and brought into full occupation by 6th Duke, and became notable as a centre of late Victorian and Edwardian upper-class "society". The Duke was a keen horse-owner, and the almhouses he constructed on the estate are known as the Winnings, because they were funded from the proceeds of money won by his horses in seven "high purse" races from 1888-1890. The Oxford Wing of the Abbey, which contained some of the oldest parts of the building, burned down in October 1900 although most of the contents were saved from the fire. The wing was rebuilt to the designs of Ernest George by 1905. Between 1914 and 1919 the kitchen block was used as an army hospital. After the Second World War, Welbeck was leased by the Dukes of Portland to the Ministry of Defence and was used as an army training college, ' Welbeck College' until 2005.

Welbeck Woodhouse
A smaller house known as Welbeck Woodhouse was built on the northern side of the estate for the then Marquess of Titchfield in 1930-31. This was built to a design by Walter Brierley but executed after Brierley's death by his partner James Hervey Rutherford.

Welbeck today
The descendents of the Cavendish Bentinck family still live on the estate. Since the MoD moved out in 2005, the Abbey itself has been the home of William Parente, the only grandchild of the 7th Duke of Portland and his Duchess, . Parente served as High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 2003-04. Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck, the elder daughter of the 7th Duke, lived at Welbeck Woodhouse, and owned most of the 17,000-acre (69 km 2) estate, up until her death on December 29, 2008. The family-controlled Welbeck Estates company and the charitable Harley Foundation have converted various buildings on the estate to new uses, and there is general public access to these from the A60 road on the western side of the estate. These include the Dukeries Garden Centre within the original estate glasshouses, The School of Artisan Food in the former Fire Stables, The Harley Gallery and the Welbeck Farm shop in the former estate gasworks, and a range of craft workshops, designed by John Outram in a former kitchen garden. The Farm Shops sells unpasteurised Stichelton cheese, made from organic milk from a herd of Holstein-Friesian cows at Collingthwaite Farm on the estate. Stichelton is the first organic raw milk blue cheese produced in Britain since the late 1960s, as Stilton is now required to be pasteurised. The Harley Gallery, managed by the Harley Foundation trust, shows a combination of contemporary arts and crafts together with changing displays of items from the Cavendish-Bentick family art collections (now known as The Portland Collection). As the estate remains privately owned, pedestrian access across the rest of the Welbeck estate is confined to footpaths forming part of the Robin Hood Way.

List of owners and occupiers
  • ca 1086 Hugh FitzBaldric
  • 1140 - 1538 Premonstratensian canons in the Abbey of St. James
  • 1538 - 1558 Richard Whalley of Screveton
  • 1558 - 1595 Edward Osborne of London, citizen and clothworker
  • 1595 - 1599 Robert Booth and Ranulph Catterall
  • 1599 - 1607 Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury and Mary Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury
  • 1607 - 1617 Sir Charles Cavendish
  • 1617 - 1676 William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • 1676 - 1691 Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • 1691 - 1711 John Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Lady Margaret Cavendish
  • 1711 - 1734 Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer and Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles
  • 1734 - 1785 William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland and Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland
  • 1785 - 1809 William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland
  • 1809 - 1854 William Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland
  • 1854 - 1879 William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland
  • 1879 - 1943 William John Arthur Charles James Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland
  • 1943 - 1977 William Arthur Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 7th Duke of Portland and Ivy Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland
  • 1977 - 2008 Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck
  • 1943 - 2005 Ministry of Defence (leasing the majority of the abbey from the 7th Duke and his successors)
  • 1992”“Present Parente and Bentinck families (family of the 7th Duke, occupying part of the abbey)

  • Berengar, occurs between 1153 and 1169
  • Adam, occurs between 1183 and 1194
  • Richard, occurs between 1194 and 1224
  • William, occurs 1229, 1236, 1243
  • Richard, occurs 1250, 1252, 1256-7
  • Adam, occurs 1263, 1272, 1276
  • Thomas, occurs 1281, 1292
  • John de Duckmanton, 1309
  • John de Cestrefeld, 1310
  • William de Kendall, 1316
  • John de Nottingham, 1322
  • William de Aslakeden, 1335
  • Robert Spalding, 1341
  • John de Wirksop, 1349
  • Hugh de Langley, 1360
  • George de Gamelston, occurs 1369, 1383, 1387
  • William de Staveley, occurs 1389
  • John Bankwell, occurs 1393
  • John de Norton, occurs 1412, dies 1450
  • John Greene, 1450
  • William Burton, occurs 1475, 1482
  • John Lancaster alias Acastre, occurs 1488, 1491
  • John Copper, occurs 1492
  • Thomas Wydur, occurs 1494, 1497, 1500
  • Robert, occurs 1502
  • Thomas Wilkinson, 1503
  • John Maxey, 1520, died 1536
  • Richard Bentley, surrendered 1538

Building Activity

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