A major restoration project to repair the Long Gallery in the old Insect Room at Wollaton Hall has uncovered an original Elizabethan fireplace, from 1588, obscured from view for over 200 years.

The Elizabethan fireplace has been hidden by two fireplaces and an additional wall built in the Regency period. These Regency additions were made by the famous architect Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, who was an English architect and traditionally a garden designer. This is a ground breaking discovery for a major heritage site in Britain, managed by Nottingham City Council.

To mark the significance of this great historic find, Wollaton Hall & Deer Park invited The Fernwood School to fill and place a time capsule into the Elizabethan fireplace on Monday 27th January.

Its teachers have worked with children in the school to fill the time capsule with educational objects, such as school jumpers, stationery and photos. The aim is to give future audiences a view of the lives of children in local Nottingham schools today.

Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Dave Trimble, said: “We are delighted that we not only have a major historic find for our much loved heritage venue in Nottingham, but also that Fernwood School will be placing a time capsule.

“It brings together the community of Wollaton, and will create an irreplaceable historical record for future generations to discover and enjoy in the years to come too.“

This is part of a wider restoration project at Wollaton Hall to renovate the exhibition rooms housing the Natural History collections. This means that following the placement of the time capsule, and for the structural integrity of the outstanding Elizabethan mansion, it will be necessary to replace the damaged wall and re-instate the Regency fireplaces.

This will once again obscure the Elizabethan fireplace from view, however a 3D scan has been taken of the fireplace by Trent & Peak Archaeology, who have also been recording the historic fabric of the building throughout the repairs. This will pave the way for research projects in the future and be fundamental in maintaining an accurate historical record of Wollaton Hall & Deer Park.

With all restoration projects, it is unknown what great historical finds will be discovered when looking beneath the outer shell of the Elizabethan mansion. One thing for certain, with ongoing works at Wollaton Hall, there will inevitably be historical discoveries as the project evolves – an exciting prospect for a major heritage site in Britain.