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Bretton Hall & Country Park

Bretton Hall is in Bretton Country Park near the village of West Bretton about halfway between Barnsley and Huddersfield. The Country Park is also home to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The history of the Bretton Estate goes back over 700 years. The estate originated in the 13th Century when the Dronsfield family gradually built up land and property in the southern part of the West Riding. From 1407 the resident family were the Wentworths.

Bretton Hall
Bretton Hall
Bretton Hall and Lake
Bretton Hall and Lake

From 1792 the Beaumonts lived at Bretton Hall remaining until the sale of the estate to the West Riding County Council in 1948. The hall was used for educational purposes for students interested in Music, Cultural Industries, Fine Art, Performance, Design and Education. From August 1st 2001, Bretton Hall has merged with the University of Leeds and some courses will be taught at the Leeds City Centre campus. In 2006 the University of Leeds has announced that it will no longer use the Bretton Hall site

In November 2007 it has been announced that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park has been let on a long lease to the trust that runs it. The hall itself is to be redeveloped as a luxury hotel and spa.

Bretton Hall is home to a number of nationally significant initiatives including the National Arts Education Archive, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Educational Resources Service and Bretton Lakes Nature Reserve.

Review

I thoroughly enjoyed my previous visits to Bretton Country Park though I must confess it has been many years since the last one. I was really looking forward to renewing my acquaintance. I have to say I was very disappointed. Perhaps I was having an off day but I don't think that I have ever visited any "country park" so hedged about by prohibitive notices, shibboleths and restrictions. Not to mention that I was stunned by the £4 parking charge and that the words "Please donate" figured largely. My comment to the Pedant was that four quid was donation enough.

You can't get near the lake; it is a wildlife preservation area. The nice flat footpath shown on the map that I had been hoping to follow was closed to the public (there were many others similarly closed). We took a stiff climb up a steep bank climbing some steps that purport to be a work of art. We ended up at the Longside Gallery which had an exhibition called "Structure and Material". I did take a look at it, in fact I took a very close look at it and re-named it, politely speaking, "Stuff and Nonsense". You may well guess what the impolite versions were. Had an ice-cream from the kiosk; Yorkshire Ice Cream supposed to be be super-duper but was £2 for a tiny tub and the strawberry was undoubtedly the most boring strawberry ice cream I'd ever eaten.

Climbed back down to hall but was too tired to go round the Sculpture Trail or the gardens or the shop but mooched back though the field of Henry Moore's and sheep. There were a lot of people similarly mooching. The sheep were very blasé about the whole thing.

Entry to the Sculpture Park might be free and you can see many major works here free gratis and for nothing for which we ought to be grateful. But frankly there is an awful lot of bosh about. Moreover I did not feel welcome but that's just me.

Information

Car parking, picnic area and toilets (hurrah open and free!) off the A637 Hudderfield Road. Coffee shop open weekends. More parking and facilities down at Bretton Hall a bit further along.

Address:- Bretton Hall, West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4LG.

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