Tuesday, May 29, 2018

News: Trust invites views on Wentworth Woodhouse

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As vital repair work is well underway, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) are keen to hear views about the proposed future plans for the key Rotherham asset.

The Trust concluded the acquisition of the largest privately-owned house in Europe for £7m last year. The aim of the trust is to preserve the house and grounds on a long term sustainable basis and raise funds for repairs and other essential works.

Historic England is overseeing spending of a £7.6m grant funding for emergency repairs through its repair grants for heritage at risk but WWPT, estimates it will need up to £200m to restore the historic Grade I listed mansion to its former glory.

As work to the roof and impressive portico takes place, the Trust is undergoing a period of masterplanning and developing a long term strategy for Wentworth Woodhouse. An online survey has already taken place as the trust looks to reflect the views of a range of community groups and individuals.

Now two public consultation evenings are being held in the Barn at the Rockingham Arms in Wentworth on Tuesday June 12 and Thursday June 14. There will be three sessions on each evening, at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm.

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Initial plans showed proposals for the north wing to host a huge range of weddings and events with the stables becoming home to dynamic small businesses. Within the 18th century house and outbuildings more than a dozen apartments and cottages could be restored as lets for holiday makers.

Short term plans involve the creation of four new jobs, new tours of the house cellars and the gardens, plans for a gift shop and revitalised cafe.

The National Trust pledged to support plans for the house and promised £750,000 over the first three years of opening. The two trusts are working 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. There is a 50% discount for National Trust members on all guided tours.

Sarah McLeod has the unique task of forging a new future for the house as CEO at the WWPT. Recruitment has taken place to bolster the board with trustees with specific skills in the areas of finance, architecture and contract management.

The Trust said that it is currently in a start-up phase with a relatively small staff. In addition to day-to-day management of current trading activities, it is launching a series of major capital works programmes and the preparation of a strategic masterplan which will lead to a significantly larger business.

Wentworth Woodhuose website

Images: Furniss & Sons

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