Delving into Bestwood’s royal park

Bestwood County Park
Bestwood County Park

A direct descendant of Nell Gwyn has teamed up with Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) to find out more about the Royal love affair with Bestwood spanning centuries.

Originally part of the larger Royal Sherwood Forest, Bestwood was a popular and convenient hunting location for monarchs. Charles II gifted his mistress Nell Gwyn the original Bestwood Lodge and park, and her illegitimate son became the first Duke of St Albans.

Now London-based Charles Beauclerk, son of the 14th Duke of St Albans, along with NCC, are appealing alongside the Friends of Bestwood Park for more information about its history.

Councillor John Knight said: “The list of Royals connected to Bestwood reads almost like a ‘Who’s Who’ of this country’s monarchs.

“We are keen to learn more about Bestwood’s fascinating history and we very pleased to be working with Charles Beauclerk, one of Nell Gwyn’s direct descendants and the Friends group, and hope our appeal will achieve this aim.”

Charles Beauclerk, who resides in Battersea, has already published one book about his famous ancestress and is now researching a new book about Bestwood from the time of the 10th Duke of St Albans.

The park has a remarkable history. In the 1680s, Charles II offered to Nell Gwyn, England’s first ‘celebrity’ actress, a gift of ‘all the land she could ride around before breakfast’. Despite not being an early riser or keen horsewoman, the determined Gwyn rode out early dropping handkerchiefs along her route, and the encircled area became Bestwood Park.