Thursday, November 8, 2018

News: "People’s palace" plan for Wentworth Woodhouse


Having been launched at Downing Street last month, details of a masterplan to create a down-to-earth, community-focused stately home attraction at Wentworth Woodhouse are to be launched at "the big house" tomorrow.

The Yorkshire launch of the The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust's (WWPT) masterplan will be staged on Friday November 9 and a host of civic dignitaries, local MPs and representatives of heritage and arts experts from Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Worksop will also be attending.

The 500-page Masterplan, called "A New Life" aims to create a world-class visitor attraction with local heritage and culture exhibitions and a focus firmly on the restoration task. Visitors will be able to view heritage and culture exhibitions, explore more of the house and take "hard hat and Hi Viz" tours onto the rooftop to witness restoration work as it happens.

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.

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

Wentworth Woodhouse and its ancillary buildings are listed Grade I and Grade II* so architects at Purcell assessed what new uses could be brought to the 83 acre site, and where.

Sustainability assessment have also been carried out as each phase of works must be self-sustaining, generating enough income to cover its maintenance and operational costs.


For the main house, the future uses will include the main visitor attraction, commercial units, catering and luxury holiday accommodation.

A café in the North Wing could be joined by a fine dining restaurant for approx 118 covers towards the East Front with private dining space within Octagonal game larder.

State Bedrooms could be home to two suites for exclusive overnight accommodation to support events. A 5-6 bedroom guesthouse for holiday let and self-contained apartments for holiday let, could be created in the North and South Pavilions.

14 commercial units suitable for small businesses are earmarked for the South Wing and events space and administrative space for the Trust are also in the plans for the house.

The plans for the former stable block and riding school, once palatial surroundings, include a range of visitor facilities, events space suitable for weddings, further events space in the courtyard, retail units for artisan crafts and 15 self-contained apartments.

Turning the neglected Camellia House into a café with events space is expected to be the first phase of works. Also suitable for weddings, it could open in 2021/22. This could cost some £1.5m.

At a cost of £79.6m works on the main house would be slit into two phases - from now to 2024/25 and from 2024/25 to 2029/30. The £49.2m redevelopment of the stable block is penciled in for 2021/22 to 2026/27.

The work is timely. The mansion, stables and Camellia House are riddled with asbestos and uninhabitable. Dry rot is endemic, drains have collapsed, roofs are leaking, bats are roosting, timbers are rotting and stone work deteriorating. Just last month, the fountain at the stables crumbled.

Concluding the masterplan, Sarah McLeod, CEO of WWPT, said: "Through investment, innovative thinking and an audience-focused approach, Wentworth Woodhouse will be a testament to the grit and fortitude of a region that has changed radically over the last century. It will be a beacon for learning. For new approaches to integrating heritage and business. It will be an iconic reminder of the passion, pride and power of the people who pulled together to make this happen."

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: WWPT


Rod November 12, 2018 at 9:20 AM  

Reported on BBC website and in national press as ‘ South Yorkshire...’. If it’s shocking or embarrassing it’s ‘Rotherham’, if it’s something to be proud of it’s ‘Sheffield’ or ‘South Yorkshire’... Hmm... ☹️

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