April 2023 – Update

At a well-attended meeting of the Edwinstowe Historical Society in February, Shirley, the
Chairperson, welcomed members to the illustrated talk, which highlighted the parts played
by the Dukes of Newcastle, and Dukes and Earls of Portland in the development of Welbeck
Abbey after the dissolution of the monasteries to the present day. Sir Charles Cavendish,
son of Bess of Hardwick, purchased the abbey in 1607.
Over the centuries Welbeck Abbey has been redeveloped, and has seen Dukes devoted to
horses, farming, and estate improvements, also Dukes and Earls who have been avid
collectors, lived expensively and found themselves in debt. Fortunately, their successors
were able to restore order to the running of the estate.
On occasions there were no male heirs, so the estate passed by marriage through the
female line. There were some notable females: Margaret Duchess of Newcastle, a
philosopher, poet, scientist, fiction writer and playwright; Lady Henrietta Harley, Countess
of Oxford revived Gothic architecture; Lady Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, 2nd Duchess of
Portland, collector and naturalist.
The British royal family, King of Siam, and Kings and Queens of Portugal, Spain and Belgium
were entertained at Welbeck. Between 1914 and 1919 the army set up camp in the park,
and after WW2 Welbeck operated as Welbeck College, an army training college, until 2005.
The 6 th Duke and Duchess were involved with the creation of Harlow Wood Orthopaedic
Hospital and Portland Training College.
The title Duke of Portland became extinct with the death of the 9 th Duke in 1990. However,
the Earldom of Portland was inherited by a male line descendant of the first Duke’s younger
brother. On the death of Lady Anne Cavendish Bentinck in 2008, she bequeathed Welbeck
to her nephew William Henry Marcello Parente.