The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

The Wollaton Park Gatehouse - Lenton Lodge

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In the early nineteenth century Henry, 6th Lord Middleton resolved to extend the eastern boundary of the park surrounding Wollaton Hall. His plan was for the park to stretch as far as the Nottingham Canal which had appeared on the scene in the 1790s. He also gained a little extra portion of parkland at its southeast corner by moving part of the Derby Road southwards. Bricklayers were engaged to construct a new wall around the outside of the newly enlarged park. Lord Middleton had also decided that the main entrance to his park should have a gatehouse, an imposing edifice that would echo the style of the Hall itself. He engaged Sir Jeffry Wyatville to design and oversee its construction which took place in the early 1820s.


Using Mansfield sandstone Sir Jeffry Wyatville and his workforce constructed a gatehouse three storeys high plus basement areas below ground level. This gatehouse was called 'Lenton Lodge.'

The central archway provided vehicular access to the park and an underground winding mechanism enabled the main gates to be closed when required. These gates were designed to prevent troublemakers from gaining access to the hall.

We have no specific date as to when this photograph was taken but it may well have been taken in the mid-nineteenth century given the men are all wearing stove-pipe hats. The feature in the foreground on the right is the parapet of the bridge which carried the Derby Road over the Nottingham canal.

This double-size picture postcard allows us an expanded view of this portion of Derby Road. On the right is the stone parapet of the canal bridge and beyond is the No.4 lock. The boundary wall of the park stretching off along Derby Road can be seen to the left of Lenton Lodge. The matching stone parapet of the other side of bridge is on the left along with a view of the canal itself. This road bridge required to be widened once Lord Middleton resolved to re-route the Derby Road and explains why the road itself is so wide at this particular point.

This coach load of people would appear to have just emerged from Wollaton Park. However it is equally possible that, intent on having their photograph taken, Lenton Lodge was merely selected to provide a suitably dramatic backdrop. The photograph is believed to have been taken in 1906.

Taken in 1920 a twelve year old Reg Meakin, later to serve as chairman of Lenton Local History Society, poses for his photograph in front of the gatehouse. A metal gate, just visible beyond the archway, also limited public access to the park when the main gates remained open.

The gatehouse also provided accommodation for two households either side of the arch. Initially the head of the house would have been on of the Middleton's workforce but in later years the premises were rented out to non-employees. This is Edith Marriott in the early 1920s when she lived in one half of the gatehouse with her parents - her father, George Marriott was in the police force at the time.

Lenton Lodge used to feature on a regular basis among picture postcards produced in Nottingham. The photographers regularly used to position themselves so that the River Leen was in the foreground as can be seen in the following sequence of images.

Taken as horse-drawn carts were passing along Derby Road this sepia image provides us with fine detail of the bridge which allows the River Leen to pass under the road.

This is actually the same photograph as used in the previous image but, as it has been colourised, much of the fine detail previously evident has been lost.

Another shot of the gatehouse taken from the bank of the River Leen. The parapet of the canal bridge is obscured by the presence of the hedge seen on the left of the picture postcard.

For this shot of the gatehouse the picture postcard publisher has chosen to colour the sky but has left the rest of the image in sepia - which makes for a rather odd looking photograph.

For this particular photograph of the gatehouse taken in 1895 the photographer is positioned on Hillside with access to the canal towpath just where the two little girls are standing on the right of the image.

In September 1924 Michael, 11th Lord Middleton concluded the sale of Wollaton Hall and the surrounding park to Nottingham Corporation for £200,000. Part of the parkland was used for housing but the majority of it was retained as the public park we have today. This picture postcard produced by John Henry Spree was taken on the day the new municipal park was thrown open to the public on 22 May 1926. The people are walking along what would subsequently become Wollaton Hall Drive.

It is not clear whether this charabanc party were intent on going on into Wollaton park in 1928 or whether they were going elsewhere and the photographer thought the gatehouse was just a suitable backdrop for his photograph.

Whether John Henry Spree also took this photograph of the gatehouse at much the same time as our other Spree photograph is unclear. While focusing on the gatehouse he also includes a portion of the canal bridge parapet and a small bit of one of the balance beams at the No.4 Lock is also visible.

In the plot of ground including the tree seen on the right of the previous photograph is this old water pump. There is some suggestion that this pump was used a source of fresh water by those travelling along the canal. However it is more likely to have been installed primarily for the occupants of the gatehouse. No doubt once the gatehouse was supplied with mains water it would no longer have been needed.

Although it never seems to feature in any of our photographs there was a more prosaic entrance to Wollaton park located to the right of the gatehouse. This would be used by any tenant farmers who had rented some of the parkland from the Middleton estate as pasture for their animals. The current pedestrian and cycle route alongside the gatehouse through to Charnock Avenue would originally have taken you to this second entrance.

When the additional section of tramline was added to the Derby Road route in 1927 to extend the line as far as Lenton Lodge the trams would use a portion of the cut-through as their terminus. At this point the tram personnel, at that time probably all men, could relieve themselves in a pissoir constructed alongside the lodge. After the trams were replaced by trolleybuses in 1931 the pissoir was no longer needed but remained for many years a public urinal for male use. Now closed and the entrance blocked off the structure is still to be seen in this photograph taken by Richard Wigginton in 2018.

"I lived at Lenton Lodge at that time. It was my wedding day May 1st 1956. With me is my brother Arthur Beal, he gave me away because my father was killed in the second world war. My marriage to Barrie Fines took place at St Marys Church on Wollaton Hall Drive, I could have walked there it was so close to the Lodge but of course that was not done and Burley Fox who drove and owned the beautiful Black Daimler had to drive around the block. I loved living at the Lodge."
Pat Fines - Australia.

This second world war structure is still to be found on the land on the eastern side of the cut-through to Charnock Avenue [now incorporated into the Jubilee Campus]. There is some uncertainty as to what it was used for. If it was a pillbox it seems to be in an unlikely location. A more feasible use is that it was an emergency air-raid shelter that could be used by the occupants of the gatehouse. When the University took over this Derby Road site it arranged for it to be cleaned up and made secure. Given that most such structures dating from this era have now been demolished it is good to see the University actively preserving our wartime past.

This is the inside of our wartime structure after it had been cleaned up. Photograph taken by Richard Wigginton in 2018.

During the 1970s the lodge was largely unoccupied and had fallen into a state of disrepair. In 1981 the City Council gave Lawrie Williamson a ninety-nine year lease on the building and he spent much time and money turning it back into a family home. More about his involvement with the building can be read in the article featured in The Lenton Listener No.26. This photograph was taken in 1988 with Mr Williamson in situ and the big gates permanently closed.

A 1988 shot of the ornate mechanism that meant that the doors could only be opened from inside the gatehouse.

One of these strange boxes was to be found either side of the doors. Winding handles would be inserted into them in order to open and close the main doors to the Lodge.

A view looking down into the winding mechanism - taken in 1988.

After Lawrie Williamson moved out someone else decided that they would like to live there. These new residents also resolved to make the area within the gateway into a functional room they could use. This 2006 shot shows what it looked like once the modifications had been carried out.

The new glazing units also feature in the lower half of this 2006 shot. The main focus, however, is on the coat of arms featured above the gateway.

In Lenton Times No.24 we featured a short article entitled 'That Old Plaque Magic' that delved into the realms of heraldry in order to explain what is depicted here and also explain its significance.

In the 2010s Lenton Lodge has served as office space for various local companies but the building has now been taken over by the University of Nottingham. As their sign makes clear in this photograph they now call it 'Gatehouse Lodge' and the premises are used to house the Admissions Department.

Lenton Listener Articles

Articles from 'The Lenton Listener' Magazine

Lenton Lodge - The Inside Story - Issue 26 - September to October 1983


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