Image ID: 14755
Courtesy of Nottinghamshire Archives
The 12th Century Rufford Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks and later transformed for the Talbot and Savile families into a grand country house. The Cistercian order was noted for its spartan way of life and its strict religious beliefs. The monk's lives consisted of work, study and prayer. By the middle of the 14th Century, the abbey was struggling to continue because of the dwindling number of monks. Rufford was one of the first to go when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries around 1536 because of its poverty and run down state. Later the Crown granted the abbey to the Talbot family, one of England's richest and most powerful families. George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, transformed it into a grand country house. In 1626, the Saviles, a rich Yorkshire family took over the house and Sir George Savile rebuilt the house and landscaped the gardens, making it his country seat. Many changes were made over the next 300 years by a long line of Saviles including a stable block, a classic Bath House/Orangery and the creation of the present day lake and mill buildings. In 1931, following the death of the 2nd Lord Savile the estate was sold and, in 1938, the doors of Rufford closed. The remains of the abbey were acquired by Nottinghamshire County Council and the badly damaged north and east wings were demolished and the rest put in the care of English Heritage. The Jacobean wing, which formed the kitchen and servants quarters, was restored in 1997 and now houses a Restaurant. The rest of the gardens and lake are now open to the public as a country park.
Organisation Reference: NCCN001162