Trent & Peak Archaeology / The University of Nottingham
Willoughby House - system LE3
Willoughby House was built between 1738 and
1741 as the town residence of the Rt Hon
Rothwell Willoughby. Rothwell was the
younger brother of Lord Middleton, who
owned Wollaton Hall.
In the twentieth century the building was
used as offices until Paul Smith, the
Nottingham-born fashion designer, bought the
property to convert into a flagship store.
Following sensitive conservation, the building
was reopened in 1994 and remains one of
finest remaining examples of Nottingham’s
The caves behind Willoughby House (also
known as the ‘Circle Court’ caves are an early
and outstanding example of ‘Gentleman’s
caves’ - a carefully-designed wine cellar with
architectural features. This is comparable
with the NG1 cave on Newcastle Terrace, cut
a century later. It is likely that Willoughby
would have used these caves to show off his
wine collection and architectural taste, and
perhaps to entertain his friends by
candlelight in these unusual conditions.
As well as the LE3 caves, Willoughby House
has two further sets of caves directly beneath
the house. These include LE8, which we have
not surveyed, and LE7, which are storage and
air raid shelter caves.
20 Low Pavement, cave LE3