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Wollaton Village Dovecote Museum

Dovecote Drive, off Bramcote Lane, Wollaton, NG8 2NB

This Page was Updated April 2024

Step over the threshold and you step back into Tudor history

We should like to invite you to visit Wollaton Village Dovecote Museum

If you would like to book a group visit please contact us via the feedback link

OPEN 2.00pm to 4.30pm

Second Sunday of the Month May to September inclusive

*When a tour guide is available there will be a GUIDED WALK 3.15pm around Wollaton Village


In the interests of conserving exhibition material the museum is now closed for the winter and will re-open on Sunday, 12th May, 2024.

2024 Opening dates

Sunday 12th May:  Grand Opening by Graham Lawson and Steven Russell of the (Almost Airborne Living History Group) at 2.00 with free drinks to celebrate the arrival of the 508th Airborne  All welcome.


Sunday 9th June: The AALHG are here again. Come and meet Graham and Steve and the Airborne

Saturday 6th/Sunday 7th July: (Wollaton Festival Weekend)  Come and enjoy the garden together with traditional games on the lawn.

Sunday 14th July: (Wollaton Festival) Enjoy traditional games on the lawn.

Sunday 11th August:   Traditional games on the lawn.

Sunday 8th  September:  Heritage Open Day - The AALHG are here again. Come and meet meet Graham and Steve and the Airborne.


Details of recent research projects are available for perusal.

Details of those who lived in the Wollaton area who served in the first world war.

Coprehensive data relating to burials at the St Leonard's Church cemetry and the newer cemetry on Bramcote Lane.

Many years of the Russell School, with photographs.

Results of research in the delopment of Parkside.

Transcriptions of Census records. 

Wollaton Historical & Conservation Society does not accept liability for any accident, loss or damage to members or visitors during its advertised activities

Due to uneven floors and steep stairs please take care when visiting this Tudor building and be responsible for your own safety. Thank you.


If you are a member of a group, perhaps a Local History Society, WI, Probus, U3A, etc or any social group, we are pleased to take advance bookings for a group visit. Please contact us via the Feedback page.



Britain in Bloom It's Your Neighbourhood award 2019

"LEVEL FIVE - Outstanding"

And an achievement award in 2020

In 2019 the dovecote received a Green Flag award for the second year running and we fly the flag with great pride.



Open 2nd Sunday of the month May to September plus Heritage Open Days, supporting St Leonard's Church which will be open for tours.

All donations and money from booklet and newsletter sales collected at the Dovecote in 2021 have been donated to the project to restore the Walled Garden at Wollaton Park. 

Chairman Andrew Hamilton says: "the is the most important conservation project to be undertaken in Wollaton since the restoration of the Dovecote in 1987". 


Down a quiet cul-de-sac lies Wollaton's hidden gem, a Tudor dovecote built for Sir Francis Willoughby around 1565, pre-dating the completion of Wollaton Hall and the Spanish Armada by 23 years.

The third oldest building in Wollaton after St Leonard's Church and the stone cottage on Wollaton Road, the village dovecote was surrounded by open farmland for almost 400 years. 

A Bit of History

The purpose of the building was purely to provide fresh meat and eggs all year round to the Willoughby household and guests. Sir Francis was one of the wealthiest men in England, and the importance of the building as a status symbol and means of providing fresh meat cannot be overstated and the Wollaton Village Dovecote is a unique and remarkable building. 

As you cross the threshold you are stepping back into more than 450 years of history. You can clearly see the pigeon nesting holes, of which there are around 1170. Originally there were no windows or floors (the ones you see today were added in the 18th century); imagine the darkness, the smell, the dusty atmosphere, the noise of fluttering wings as birds settled into their nests.

By the 18th century the birds had moved out and the building became stabling for horses. The entrance door, windows and first floor were added with two staircases being included later. 

After sale of the Middleton Estate in 1924 the building fell into disrepair and this photograph was taken in the 1980's. 

Restoration of the building in 1987 was funded by Nottingham Civic Society and supervised by John Severn and Eddie Woolrich, who you can see in this photograph with Andrew Hamilton, Chairman of Wollaton Historical & Conservation Society. It is from that restoration that Wollaton Village Dovecote Museum was created. Sadly Mr Woolrich passed away in October 2017.

There are volunteers around the museum who will tell you as much as you want to know about the building itself, the exhibition, and answer your questions. 

Let me take you on a tour of the Museum:

Please bear in mind this is a very old building so take care as you step inside and move around. Note that there are no toilet faclities but these are available at either the Community centre or public house.

In 2019 the first room displayed a collection of re-created Tudor costumes, exquisitely hand made by Daryle Greaves who you can see in the photograph.

Tudor Costumes and Daryle Greaves

 The degree of accuracy and incredible hand stitching is a privilege to see. Daryle also shares with visitors some interesting facts about domestic life in Tudor times and the history of Sir Francis Willoughby and his family. 

Daryle with Chairman Andrew Hamilton

Photograph albums of classes of pupils at The Russell School over many years are available to see. Did you attend the Russell School? Can you find yourself on a photograph and can you remember names of your school friends? 

There is also an album of photographs of weddings which have taken place at St Leonard's Church. Every wedding ceremony which takes place is a part of history and this album is an important record of local history, conserved for the future. Were you or any of your family married at St Leonard's Church? Would you consider letting us have a photograph to scan so we can include it in the album? 

If the albums are not out on display, please ask one of our volunteers for help. Research into the old families of Wollaton is included in a series of folders. These are also available to browse through. 

Some of the volunteer team

The stairs off the entrance room are the fire exit so to progress through the museum please go through the archway (mind the step!) and notice the small door to your right. This is the original oak door which provided the only access for people into the building. The birds came through the glover on apex of the roof.

The building has opened as a museum since 1987 when the first few artefacts were displayed on a table top. Over the years the collection has grown as local people have donated items and the parlour and scullery you see today displays just some of them. Can you see the pieces of needlework, knitting, crocheting and the sewing machine? How many things do you see which remind you of your childhood?

In the image below is one of our volunters in the garden working on a rag rug. Also on the table a traditional manually operated sewing machine which did many hours of work and is still in perfect condition. You can also see a typical dolly tub and washboard.


Although nobody would ever have lived in the building, the parlour is a similar size to the one-up, one-down cottages in The Square. Imagine a family with six or more children living there, where did they all sleep? 

Now take the stairs to the first floor. Take care because the stairs are steep but there are hand-rails on each side. Note that if you are uncertain, it is easier to come down again backwards. Volunteers are on hand to guide you. 

In 2019 a display of old maps 1774 to 1952 includes aerial views and photographs guideing visitors through the story of how Wollaton grew from a Medieval hamlet to the present day 21st century city suburb. There is a distinctive shape of the road junction from Church Hill into The Square outside the Admiral Rodney and it is easy to pick up that shape on each map and fascinating to see the development of Wollaton Village.

Room Two upstairs is dedicated to the restoration of the Walled Kitchen Garden at Wollaton Park. 

We hope you enjoy your visit to the Dovecote Museum and will come again. The more you look at the exhibitions, the more you see so it is well worth a re-visit! The exhibition  of maps is very popular and the exhibition of Tudor Costumes which first appeared in 2018 has been extended for 2022.

The Dovecote is owned by Nottingham City Council and leased by Wollaton Historical & Conservation Society. Admission is free and no funding is received so the future of the museum and conservation of exhibits relies entirely on donations. 

The Council are responsible for major works, such as felling an unbalanced and dangerous ash tree in 2017.

During the work:



There would never have been a garden at the dovecote, it is a functional building, surrounded by farmland.  Since the 1987 restoration a garden has been created. The garden is popular with visitors. 

Ladies from the Royal British Legion

Anyone fancy a walk around the village?


Opening times:

Open to the public on the 2nd Sunday of the month May to September plus Radio Nottingham Big Day Out in April and September as part of Heritage Open Days.

Group visits are encouraged and recently included groups from Wollaton WI, Beeston U3A, Ilkeston U3A, local history groups  and many more. If you are a member of a group and would like to arrange a visit please contact us via the feedback link.

Because there is no water supply, please note there are no toilets at the Dovecote Museum. The nearest facilities are at the Community Centre or the Admiral Rodney Public House. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

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