Founded as a Cistercian monastery in the 12th Century, Rufford Abbey came into being about the same time that Robin Hood may have roamed nearby Sherwood Forest.
When Henry VIII closed the English abbeys, its buildings, watermills, fields and farms were granted to George Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury. Later, it passed by marriage to the Yorkshire Savile family, and grew from a hunting lodge into a magnificent country house.
On the eve of World War II, Rufford Abbey was sold, and passed through the hands of various owners. Requisioned for wartime use, it housed cavalry offices, a tank regiment and later Italian prisoners of war. Stripped of its fine interiors, furnishings and land, by the late 1950s it languished. Wartime damage, coal mining subsidence and neglect left the Abbey and its grounds in a sorry state.
In 1957 Nottinghamshire County Council bought the house and the remains of its gardens, later opening them as a country park.
Though sadly, most of the building had to be demolished, the original abbey undercroft, the Jacobean wing and many historic garden features remain for today's visitors to explore.
Read on to find out more about the site's 900 year history.