Pictured are Duke of Portland, Earl of Fife, Duke of Albany and Duke and Duchess of St. Albans and Countess Spencer. See also NCCC003135.
Adjoining the village of Arnold is Bestwood Park, the residence of the Dukes of St. Albans. In an inquisition taken at St. John's House at Nottingham, in 1281, before Geoffrey Langley, Justice of the Forest, it is described as 'a park of our Lord the King, wherein no man commons.' The Plantagenets were fond of resorting here to enjoy the pleasures of the chase, and it was at Bestwood that Richard III heard of the approach of his rival, Henry Tudor. The tudor historian, Thoroton, speaks of the park as having a very fair lodge in it, which had been in the possession of three Earls of Rutland, and before that of Thomas Markham, one of Queen Elizabeth s courtiers, and of Sir John Byron a favourite of King Henry VIII. In the historian's time it was in lease to William Lord Willoughby of Parham. At the period when the keepership of Bestwood passed to Roger, Earl of Rutland, the park abounded with deer, for, writing to the Earl in 1607, John Woods and Lancelot Rolleston say: 'We find that there are in the park at least three hundred fallow-deer, and four-and-twenty red deer.' A subsequent account of the property shows that in 1650 the hall was built of wood, lime, and plaster, and covered with slate and tile, and contained thirty-eight rooms. The park was enclosed, and contained about 3,000 acres, of which 100 acres were tilled, and the rest was in pasture, in the occupation of William Willoughby, Esq. The park was used as a place of 'recreation' for King Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwyne. A local legend tells how Nell Gwyne tricked King Charles into giving her the whole of the Bestwood Estate. The king would always be up hours before Nell who would get up after lunch. Jokingly, the King promised Nell all the ground she could ride around before he got up. Unknown to King Charles, Nell arranged to ride out within minutes of his going to sleep and rode for miles around, claiming it all for their illegitimate son, the first Duke of St. Albans. And so in 1683 Charles II, by letters patent, granted Bestwood to his son Charles Beauclerk, first Duke of St. Albans. In subsequent years his ennobled family did much to improve it and make it worthy to rank as one of the stately homes of England. The Victorian mansion, Bestwood Lodge, was built for the Duke of St Albans in 1862-5 by S S Teulon. The mansion was built in brick in the Gothic style, and was altered in 1867. In 1885 Bestwood Lodge was completed, under the direction of the 10th Duke of St Albans and further enlarged in 1896. Among royal visitors entertained by his Grace were Edward the Prince and Princess of Wales on the occasion of the opening of Nottingham Castle Museum in 1878. In the park was erected a small church, in which lie the remains of the 10th Duchess, to whom there was a memorial, and a marble medallion carved by the Princess Louise. The whole site is now used as a hotel centre.