Wednesday, August 9, 2017

News: Wentworth Woodhouse confirms partnership with National Trust

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The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) has announced plans to work in partnership with the National Trust at the historic Grade I listed mansion in Rotherham.

When the WWPT concluded the acquisition of the largest privately-owned house in Europe for £7m in March, the National Trust had already pledged to support plans for the house and promised £750,000 over the first three years of opening.

Now the partnership has been cemented and the two trusts said that they will work closely together on operational aspects of opening and managing the house, to enable the general public to continue to visit and enjoy the historic attraction.

The partnership at Wentworth Woodhouse includes financial support over three years and operational support over six years, with the National Trust advising on areas such as presentation, visitor services, opening hours, visitor experience, volunteer management and marketing.

Sarah McLeod, chief executive of the WWPT, said: "We're excited to invite the general public into this incredible property to enjoy the many exciting features. Support, advice and expertise from the National Trust is invaluable and will ensure we are equipped to make Wentworth Woodhouse a fantastic experience for everyone."

Harry Bowell, director in the North at the National Trust, added: "The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust have saved an incredibly important house. We're pleased to be able to work in partnership with their team to open the house and grounds to the public so that everyone can enjoy it."

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The aim of the WWPT is to preserve the house and grounds on a long term sustainable basis and raise funds for repairs and other essential works.

Early proposals show that the North wing is set to host a huge range of weddings and events and the stables will become home to dynamic small businesses. Within the 18th century house and outbuildings more than a dozen apartments and cottages will be restored as lets for holiday makers.

In June, Rothbiz reported on the incoming CEO at the WWPT and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. McLeod, whose previous role was on the adaptive reuse of the site of Sir Richard Arkwright's Cromford Mill, admitted that it may take double the initially estimated £42m to get Wentworth Woodhouse up to full use.

The National Trust is a conservation charity entirely independent of Government. It looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 775 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. With 4.5 million members and over 62,000 volunteers, the National Trust opens over 350 houses, gardens, landscapes and other buildings to the public each year.

Despite the best efforts of two public sector owners and two private owners, one of the UK's most interesting and important country houses ultimately proved too expensive for either the public or the private sector to maintain.

After World War II, Wentworth Woodhouse was offered by the 8th Earl Fitzwilliam to the National Trust but it was deemed too large and expensive for the Trust to take on.

During the campaign to secure the property, a detailed business plan commissioned by the National Trust showed projected income and expenditure for the WWPT over twenty years. Forecasts showed that the WWPT will come into a surplus in the sixth year of operation.

Wentworth Woodhouse website
National Trust website

Images: Wentworth Woodhouse


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