A drawing by one of the children, from John Knifton's Website
Another drawing by one of the children, from Nottingham post article
In the transcripts the children give the location as "the swamps" and one said "They went back in the bushes – there’s wire round them, a fence, that’s where they get in. We went in the bushes when it was daytime and we couldn’t see nothing, just trees and swamps." Another child mentions the swamp as having a big fence around it, and normally you can't go in there you have to keep out. The third transcript mentions a gnome coming out "the hole where the fence was", and the children saw gnomes coming out the holes in the top of the trees, and the child says "we just went over the fence to look at them and when we went closer to them they went back in the holes." One of the children was said to have fallen into the swamp during the chase, so presumably the children entered the forbidden fenced off area.
The children with their headmaster, photo from Nottingham post article
All of the above information came from Simon Young's transcript of the Wollaton Park Gnomes, which can be found here on the Academia website.
The story spread and spread and received media coverage, and although there seems to be no mention of the gnomes in the museum at Wollaton Hall today, the gnomes have not been forgotten by folklorists. Just recently a great article appeared in the Nottingham Post seeking the children who originally saw the gnomes, the article can be found here and is well worth a read and also includes information on other fairy sightings in the park.
An earlier mention of fairy folk in Wollaton Park can be found in Marjorie Johnson's Seeing Fairies, where she writes of an account given to her many years ago by Mrs C George who as long ago as the year 1900 was passing the gates when she saw "little men" dressed like policemen, standing inside the lodge entrance. "They were smiling and looking very happy", and were about 2 to 3 feet tall in height and they hadn't any wings. She also mentions that fairies had been seen dancing around the lake in the park. This book also contains an account by Jean Dixon who became aware of gnomes whilst walking in the park, and described them as eager to show her the scenes and objects that delighted them, as she followed them around the park.
A vintage gnome in car ornament, ebay.
Plenty of great articles and blogs have been written about the Wollaton gnomes so I won't go into any greater detail, but what I couldn't find online are any photos of the area where the gnomes were actually seen. As far as I know, the exact location isn't known for sure or at least hasn't been revealed publicly, but I did find a fenced off wooded boggy area that could possibly fit the description. Though considering how many years have passed since the original encounter, fences may have long since been removed or changed.
Could this be "the swamp"?
Personally, I'm a bit suspicious of the large area of woodland that has been fenced off and marked with keep out signs, are they secretly running a gnome reserve, thinly disguised as a conservation area? The park does close before dusk every day, just when the gnomes are said to come out to roam the park, so who gnomes! Considering that nearly 500 sandstone caves have been discovered hidden under Nottingham, who's to say what creatures may be living down there?
here, together with the opening hours.
I'll leave you with a few more photos of the beautiful woodlands at Wollaton Park.....
Anyone else see a tree root face here? Also in a swampy area of the park.
Sources and Further Information
Simon Young's transcript of the Wollaton Park Gnomes
John Knifton's The Gnomes of Wollaton Park
Seeing Fairies, Marjorie Johnson
The Wollaton Driving Gnomes, Phantoms and Monsters Website
The Wollaton Ghosts, Nottingham Hidden History Team
Nottingham Caves Survey