Thursday, October 18, 2018

News: £150m Wentworth Woodhouse masterplan focuses on visitor offer


Details of a masterplan to create a down-to-earth, community-focused stately home attraction at Wentworth Woodhouse are to be unveiled in full next month.

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) concluded the acquisition of the largest privately-owned house in Europe for £7m in 2017. This week, members of the trust visited Down Street for the launch of plans to restore the house and protect its future by transforming it into a "people's palace."

The 500-page Masterplan, called "A New Life," will be launched to the local community at an event at Wentworth Woodhouse on November 9.

It aims to become a world-class visitor attraction with local heritage and culture exhibitions and a focus firmly on the restoration task - the biggest and most important in the UK.

Uniquely, visitors will be able take "hard hat and Hi Viz" tours to witness work taking place and talk to restoration teams. The story of the house, told in engaging 21st century formats, will chronicle its days of grandeur, fall into decline and purchase by the trust.


A heritage construction skills training programme will create Wentworth's own workforce, as it did for 200 years.

State rooms where nobility once slept will be rentable for the night, and holiday homes will be created in the house and stables.

In addition, office and craft spaces will be developed and new cafes and restaurants will be created. Wedding parties, TV and film crews will continue to bring income.

Julie Kenny CBE, chair of the WWPT (pictured, left), said: "In recent decades the house was fiercely guarded by recent occupants and concealed from the world. One of our priorities is to create a place where everybody feels welcome and can engage with this huge project. Wentworth Woodhouse belongs to us all."

The Masterplan is the result of a year spent examining workable schemes and 1,500 local people took part in the consultation process.

Sarah McLeod, CEO of WWPT (pictured, right), said: "We will restore a national asset and regenerate a community. As this once great house rises again, it will be an economic driver improving the lives of people in Rotherham, one of the most socially-deprived areas of the UK.

"Visitors will bring income to the area and the very task of restoration will be a major draw and also a creator of jobs. We want to train the next generation in the skills their ancestors specialised in."

Urgent repairs to the badly leaking roof are already underway, thanks to the £7.6m grant awarded in Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn 2016 Statement. But the trust now needs around £150m to develop the plan and then focus on the visitor offer.

Kenny added: "We purchased the site just in time. Significant heritage features were at risk.

"Over 100 structural surveys and commencement of capital repair works have shown us the extent of the damage, decay and loss caused over many decades.The site is in a very serious state.

"But we have a great team at the Big House, as it is known locally, and our Masterplan means we can set about putting right the wrongs of the past years for the future of our local people and communities, the region, and more importantly the nation."

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: WWPT


Unknown October 18, 2018 at 11:33 AM  

This sounds wonderful. I think school trips would be great as I never knew about the building until well into my 30's. School children would love it.

Unknown October 18, 2018 at 11:23 PM  

Why not put collection box's in schools, and a
Other places around the whole of Rotherham the south Yorkshire area asking local people to give what they, towards putting Wentworth Wood house back to what it once was, if ever one over the age of 21 just gave £1each you'd get an awfull lot of money that way. Put it in local papers asking local folks to give just a £1 I'm sure you'd fine most people of Rotherham would do it. Plus people would help collect the money I know I would. L. Asbery

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