From its famous market and the world’s oldest classic horse race to country manors and romantic hilltop castles, Doncaster is a town of tradition.
Situated in South Yorkshire, Doncaster is surrounded by a rural landscape boasting country estates and manors. It is intertwined by the waters of the River Don and beautiful stretches of canals that also pass through the region’s many pretty villages, including Conisbrough.
Day at the races
The racecourse at Doncaster is one of the largest and oldest in England. From the country over, enthusiasts dressed in their finery gather to place their bets and experience the flash-like pace of the flat races. The Doncaster Cup, inaugurated in 1766, is still one of the country’s leading long distance meets. The course boasts the world’s oldest classic horse race too; Doncaster celebrates the St Leger with a week-long festival of music, arts, culture, and fine food before heading trackside to enjoy the racing.
Back in 1909, Doncaster Racecourse held the first air display in Britain. Today, the town retains a rich aviation history, and one of the bamboo planes that graced the Yorkshire skies over a century ago is on display at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum. Here too, visitors have the chance to climb into cockpits, see bombs and missiles and modern fighter jets. There are over 60 aircrafts and vehicles on display here, and seeing them all together is really quite something.
Doncaster has been home to one of Northern England’s biggest and best markets since 1248. With 400 covered and a further 200 outdoor stalls, the award-winning Doncaster Market is delightfully pedestrianised and offers everything from antiques and speciality cheeses to flowers and linen; particularly pleasant is the chance to shop beneath the ceilings of the Corn Exchange, which are awash with architectural splendour.
Victorian grandeur is also on show at Doncaster Minster. Designed by the prolific and brilliant Sir Gilbert Scott, the church is cathedral-like in its ambition with a dominating tower and decorated nave. Famously, the designers of London’s Big Ben made Doncaster Minster’s clock too.
Just north of the town centre lays another fine example of flourishing Victorian construction. Brodsworth Hall and the manicured grounds that surround it offer visitors a quintessentially English experience. Glimpse stately living, from the grand chandeliers in the dining rooms to James Ward paintings hanging on the wall, and enjoy afternoon tea among the country gardens. However, it is the chance to play croquet on its lawns that will transport you back to the best of the Victorian era.
Romanticism is never far away in Doncaster. Sitting nobly on the knoll above the town, Conisbrough Castle served as inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s classic novel, Ivanhoe. Bring the masterpiece to life with a visit to the great tower. Dating back to the 12th century, the imposing structure is the only one of its kind in England and the striking medieval remains are considered some of the best surviving in the country.