Monday, November 3, 2014

News: Wentworth Woodhouse - Newbold family confirm decision to sell

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The Newbold family have confirmed that they have decided to sell Wentworth Woodhouse, the historic Grade I listed mansion house in Rotherham.

The estate is a private family owned estate which is managed and maintained by its owners, Mr Clifford Newbold and his family, who purchased the property in 1999 for a reported £2m.

Europe's largest privately owned house, the East Front measures 615 feet and its courts and buildings cover three acres or more of ground. It is thought to have 365 rooms but given its sheer size it is difficult to know what constitutes a corridor and what constitutes a room.

The surrounding land within the park, historically part of a single estate, continues to be owned by the Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates and the Fitzwilliam Wentworth Amenity Trust.

A statement from the Newbold family read: "We fell in love with Wentworth Woodhouse 15 years ago, buying it to save it from neglect and to try and find a sustainable future for this wonderful piece of history. Extensive restoration works have been carried out in that time, starting with reinstating plumbing, heating and electrical systems throughout which had not been touched since the turn of the 20th century.

"After such a "labour of love" it is with great regret that we have made the difficult decision to move on. Our father whose home it is, is now nearly 90 and does not have the energy he once had; it is his and our greatest wish to find someone to carry on our work and see the house truly secure for the long term. Next spring the house will be offered for sale.

"The most important thing is to see the house in safe hands together with the preservation of the finest Georgian interiors in the country for future generations to enjoy."
By agreement with the Newbold family, the recently established Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) has begun fundraising and has already raised pledges of £3.4m and prepared detailed plans for the future of the property.

The trust aims to acquire the property if it can raise £7m. A further £42m needs to be spent on the fabric of the house over the next twelve to fifteen years to meet the backlog of repairs and subsidence damage.

Plans prepared for the trust include continuing to offer tours to the public which would be carried out by the National Trust, using the building for events, creating holiday lets and apartments for rent, and converting the stables for use by enterprising businesses.

The lengthy multimillion pound legal battle between the owners and the Coal Authority should come to a head in 2016. The claim for damages, for at least £100m, is in respect of the damage caused by deep and open cast mining and is being disputed. The new Trust is ready and willing to take over the claim on acquisition.

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust

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