Nell Gwynne Bestwood Country Park research project begins

Nell Gwyn Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption It is said Nell Gwynne started her working life at the Drury Lane Theatre, London

A descendant of Nell Gwynne has teamed up with council historians to research the past of a hunting estate where the royal mistress entertained Charles II.

Bestwood Country Park, near Nottingham, is known to have been frequented by Gwynne and the king.

Charles II is said to have offered to gift Nell "all the land she could ride around before breakfast" while there.

He also arranged for a £3,000 mortgage on the property to be paid off in 1684.

Charles II, who bestowed the hereditary title of the Duke of St Albans to their son, set the boundaries of the park, which is now owned by Nottinghamshire County Council.

The authority is working alongside the Friends of Bestwood Park and Charles Beauclerk, son of the 14th Duke of St Albans, in a bid to to find out more about its history.

Councillor John Knight said: "We are keen to learn more about Bestwood's fascinating history and very pleased to be working with Charles Beauclerk, one of Nell Gwynne's direct descendants, and hope our appeal will achieve this aim."

Mr Beauclerk described Nell Gwynne as a "charismatic Cockney actress with whom King Charles II, who frequented the Drury Lane theatre, fell in love."

He said: "It will be fascinating to see if there is still a pool of knowledge regarding Bestwood and the Dukes of St Albans."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Nottinghamshire County Council.

The history of Bestwood Park

Image copyright Bestwood Lodge Hotel
Image caption The former hunting lodge was restored in the 1860s
  • Bestwood was a popular hunting location for local gentry and monarchs visiting Nottingham.
  • King Charles II gifted the park to his mistress, Nell Gwynne, and their illegitimate son, who became the 1st Duke of St Albans.
  • Charles II offered to gift to Nell, "all the land she could ride around before breakfast", and was surprised the next day to find Nell sitting for breakfast before the king and all the other guests.
  • It is claimed she had ridden out early, dropping handkerchiefs along her route, and the encircled area became Bestwood Park.

Source: Nottinghamshire County Council

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