Doncaster is one of the major market towns of South Yorkshire and, as such, oversees a large borough beyond the main town centre.
It’s more than just a stop on the Leeds to London King’s Cross line – as while it may get overshadowed by neighbouring university cities such as Sheffield, it holds a huge amount of historical interest for many people who are interested in learning about where we’ve come from as a settlement.
While it’s home to hundreds of thousands of people and families, it’s also a great place to visit for days out, taking the kids away on activity days and more besides – so let’s dive in and take a closer look at why Doncaster should be given a little more focus.
Like many market towns and cities across Yorkshire, Doncaster has a long and varied past which can be seen and celebrated at various different sites and points of interest.
It’s thought that the town once started life as a Roman settlement, though archaeology has shown that the town was built up during medieval times with a name meaning ‘river fort’ – named after the River Don which runs alongside.
Conisbrough Castle was built here after the Norman Conquest and, following a slow building up of markets across the centuries, the town quickly became the most profitable of its size in the county.
What’s even more fascinating is that Doncaster is still technically the property of the Scottish – as it was offered to Scotland as part of the Treaty of Durham in 1136, but never formally given back!
There’s plenty more to Doncaster’s history than we are letting on in our few sentences here alone – which is why it is all the more worthwhile you dive into the culture and history of the town yourself.
Conisbrough Castle, for example, is still open to the public and still stands as an English Heritage site, meaning that it is protected for centuries to come.
This majestic fortress has stood here since the 12th century – a truly marvellous relic that’s one of the iconic landmarks of the wider Doncaster area.
Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
While on the subject of history – and while blending in with ideas of things for all the family to do while visiting Doncaster – the majestic Brodsworth Hall and its fabulous gardens are always worthy of a visit.
While many may assume Doncaster to merely be a working-class Yorkshire town, famed for its markets, it has touches of decadence and Victorian splendour, too – and thanks to Charles Thellusson, this now open home offers visitors the chance to sample and marvel at opulent Victorian living standards which have all but disappeared thanks to the passage of time.
The last person to live here was Sylvia Grant-Dalton – who passed away in 1988 – and, since then, her home has been restored to the full Victorian standards you’d come to expect.
Restoration and renovation of Brodsworth Hall has taken place relatively recently, though there has been care taken to preserve a number of touches and features throughout the home to show decades of use.
Take a closer look at the grand kitchen suite and scullery, complete with housekeeper’s chair – or step back in time by taking a look at some of the standards and relics left behind by the Thellusson family over the decades. Thellusson’s family lived and thrived here for well over a century!
Beyond the main house, there are of course the gardens – full of colourful displays and statues – as well as a traditional tearoom and outdoor terrace for you to enjoy at your leisure.
It’s also home to plenty of events throughout the year, too!
Key Things to See
Beyond the majesty of Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, there are of course many more sites of interest and exciting things to do for the whole family to enjoy here in Doncaster – and into the wider area.
Boston Park Farm and Maize Maze
Here are just a few of the more fascinating finds you’ll discover on your trip here.
Boston Park Farm is a great family day out – whether you’re petting and feeding the farm animals on site, or if you’re taking on the famous maize maze, there’s plenty for you to see and do here when the weather is fine.
The maze changes shape every year – and each October, that year’s maze is harvested to help feed the local animals!
Yorkshire Wildlife Park
If you are a big animal lover and want to see more exotic beasts beyond Boston Park Farm, Doncaster is also home to the wildly popular Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
Open all year with a colossal 70 acres of land, a Safari Village and a variety of rare animals and critters – such as endangered black rhinos, polar bears, leopards and meerkats – it’s great to get up close to see some majestic wildlife. Thankfully, Doncaster has you more than covered!
Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery
Coming back to talking about the town’s rich history – the museum and art gallery here really has it all in a grandiose package!
An absolute must for anyone looking to learn more about the town and to get up close and personal with some genuine items and artefacts left behind from decades and centuries past, the museum – and the art gallery beyond – are well worth taking in as part of any Doncaster day out!
The Trans Pennine Trail
This huge stretching trail is the perfect walk, canter or ride for locals and visitors alike – spanning all the way from Southport to Hornsea, Doncaster intervenes along the way on a 215 mile (346km) journey – a bit of a trek for most people, but a fascinating walk through the great outdoors all the same!
The trail splits off towards York, Leeds and Chesterfield, and it’s always well-signposted – a nice easy walk for as far as you can handle – though we wouldn’t ever recommend taking on the whole trail in one go! Split away from Doncaster and get back to nature a while!
Whether you are a seasonal horse racing enthusiast or just someone who loves a great day out, Doncaster has one of the world oldest racing festival every year. The St Leger.
Started in 1776 it’s one of the town’s biggest tourist attractions every year with punters flying in from all over the world.
There is plenty more to see and do in Doncaster, so why not head to the town and make your own memories.