The priory, dedicated to St Oswald, was founded in the 12th century.
The friars continued there until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in the 16th century.
The property was acquired in 1654 by Rowland Winn, a London City alderman with properties in Lincolnshire.
The present building was constructed to the north of the old priory and was created over a period of 50 years from 1735 and involved two architects.
Sir Rowland Winn, the 4th Baronet, commissioned James Paine to design his house.
Although Paine went on to become one the foremost architects of the mid-18th century, at the time he began work on Nostell Priory he was only 19 years old. Paine and Sir Rowland spent eight years designing and building the central block and worked on plans for a larger Palladian house. However, they did not finish their work.
In 1765 Sir Rowland died and his son (also Sir Rowland) employed Robert Adam to complete the house in the neo-classical style. Adam designed extensions for either side of the house but only the north wing was added. As a result the house has an asymmetrical appearance.
The terrace on the entrance front and the stable block, was also designed by Adam. Since this time the exterior of the house has changed very little.
The interior of the house is also a combination of the two designers' work.
Paine decorated some of the rooms in the central block, flamboyant with rococo decoration. Paine's two graceful staircases have elaborately moulded walls and ceilings.
However, Adam was responsible for most of the rooms and his elegant, classical designs highlight the opulence of Paine's interiors.
The Library has elegant bookcases designed by Adam and murals depicting mythological subjects. The Saloon and Tapestry Room have Adam's created splendid pier-glasses.
Some rooms combine both architects' work. In the Dining Room the white marble Palladian chimney -piece and doorcases were provided by Paine and the wall panels and plaster frieze were added by Adam.
The State Bedroom has a rococo ceiling by Paine and Chinese wallpaper introduced by Adam.
Many pieces of furniture were made especially for the house by Thomas Chippendale to designs by Adam. Nearly every room contains examples of Chippendale's work.
Nostell's art treasures include Brussels tapestries by Van der Borcht and paintings by such notable artists as Holbein, Pieter Breughel the younger, Van Dyck and Hogarth.
A highlight of the Nostell is the six feet high doll's house, complete with its original fittings and furniture, that stands at the foot of the south staircase.
It was commissioned by the 4th Baronet in the mid-18th century and is one of the most remarkable doll's houses in England. Family tradition maintains that it was the work of James Paine and Thomas Chippendale.
The Priory and its contents were given to the National Trust in 1953 by the trustees of the estate and Rowland Winn, Lord St Oswald.
However, it remains the family home of Lord and Lady St Oswald.
Sir Rowland Winn, the 4th Baronet set his house in a park designed by Stephen Switzer but few traces remain of the layout and today the main view from the house is across a lawn to the lake.
A three-arched hump-backed bridge across the lake was constructed in 1761 to carry the main road between Doncaster and Wakefield.
In a clearing to the west of the lake is a Gothic Menagerie designed by Adam and the old walled garden originally designed for soft fruit by Adam is now a rose garden.