Thursday, November 24, 2016

News: Wentworth Woodhouse sale set for next year


With the backing of a £7.6m Government grant, the sale of Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham to a preservation trust can finally take place with the exchange of contracts and purchase expected in the New Year.

A deal for the largest privately-owned house in Europe was confirmed in February 2016 with the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) who have raised funds and developed a long term strategy for the future of the site. The Trust had until November 30 to find the balance and so, with seven days to spare, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pulled a rabbit out of the hat in his Autumn Statement by announcing a £7.6m Government grant.

Under the ownership of the WWPT, the restoration and development will provide jobs, stimulate local employment and open "one of England's most important and grandest historic houses" to the public on a regular basis. The former service wing will host a huge range of events and the stables 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.

Marcus Binney, the executive president of influential conservation group, SAVE has worked for many years towards this moment and has been central in the formation of the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT), which is chaired by leading local business woman Julie Kenny. SAVE and the Trust have raised £7m in pledges towards the £7m purchase price agreed with the owners, the Newbold family. However, in order to proceed with the restoration of such a vast house, which will require some £42m in repairs over 12-15 years, WWPT desperately needed the start-up funds the Chancellor has now provided.


SAVE and WWPT have offered special thanks to Robert Kenrick MP who, together with Wentworth & Dearne MP John Healey, attended a special meeting when Julie Kenny met with the Chancellor in the House of Commons to make the case for funds.

Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE, said: "This is the most arduous, time-consuming and complex rescue operation SAVE has ever mounted. We hope WWPT can now move towards exchange of contracts and purchase in the New Year. We extend thanks to the Newbold family [the home's current owners] and will honour the pioneering work of the late Clifford Newbold in opening the mansion and gardens to parties of visitors who have come away enthralled and entranced by the beauty of the place."

Julie Kenny, chair of the WWPT, added: "The Trust is very lucky to have a wonderful board of Trustees who each have individual skills and abilities, which combine into a formidable body of expertise.

"Many thanks on behalf of the WWPT Trustees to the Chancellor, Government Ministers and Civil Servants for their support for this wonderful house.

"The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust project has been developed with the help of a large professional team, many providing their advice and help in a pro-bono basis.  It relies on not one but a combination of four tried and tested solutions each of which can provide a regular income stream to cover running and maintenance costs on a long-term basis. These are ticket sales and revenue, catering and events, holiday lets and business lets. The National Trust will give crucial support to the first three years of opening, including the secondment of experienced staff."

On behalf of the Newbold family, Marcus Newbold said: "We are very happy that the Government has at last pledged its support for the restoration of Wentworth Woodhouse. This is a cause close to our hearts, for which we have been battling since we purchased the house in 1999. There has always been tremendous local support for the house and it is heartening to know that the project on which we have all been working for so long is finally to receive Government backing."

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Savills


John Gilding,  November 24, 2016 at 12:45 PM  

Excellent news for the preservation of this national treasure!

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