So last Wednesday we had the day off and decided to go to a stately home, and what a stately home we went to!!!
Wentworth Woodhouse has been called many things, the largest privately owned house in the UK, 3 houses in one, one of the most neglected stately homes in the UK and many more but, to me I would simply call it spectacular even in its current state.
The house itself is positioned on the outskirts of Rotherham in South Yorkshire. The first Jacobean house on the sight was built by Thomas Watson – Wentworth 1st Marquess of of Rockingham, and vastly expanded by his son the 2nd Marquess who I believe was twice UK Prime Minister.
It had been a college Lady Mabel College and was once next to a large mine which I think may have been owned by the family who owned the house. The last private owner was a retired architect and property developer called Mr Newbold who one guide told me they think spent around £10 million of his own money on the house during his ownership. However given the sheer size of the place I can understand how even such a vast sum of money barely made a dent on the maintenence needs of this magnificent structure. Since 2017 the house has been owned by the Wenworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust who stated this would be at least a 25 year inital project of restoration (although I suspect like they used to say about the Firth of Forth railway bridge maintenence is never over).
When you enter the driveway of the house after travelling through the beautiful village of Wentworth first, the first buildings you see are weirdly a set of derelict buildings that look like they were built in the 60’s or 70’s and I suspect had something to do with the college years of the house. Then we see on the right a magnificant facade that most people think is the house and indeed is stately home size in of itself however, is in fact the stable block!! My words cannot do justice to the sheer scale of even this building that I was told once had nearly 100 horses within it and accommodation above for staff. The trus is hoping to convert this space into an events space and maybe tea rooms as well and there is certainly enough space for it.
Then after marvelling the deer skipping about in the fields next to this seemingly never ending driveway you finally turn and she the palladean style facade for the first time and WOW simply does not do it justice as to me it looked like 3 houses in one the main central house and 1 added on either end just for good measure.
Now currently there is only around an eighth of house open to view yet it still took over an hour to see thus very small proportion. The rooms we got to see were the state rooms that were apparently never lived in as the various families who called the house home tended to have rooms in the Georgian wing that is currently closed to the public although I do believe the trust runs tours of this. Of particular note is the marble ball room (that was featured in the Downton Abbey Film) and this is simply stunning. We also went in the chapel where you could see where members of the house and their staff attended church on a Sunday (and when I looked up to the balcony could have sworn I saw someone looking down on me and even though the door is open you cannot actually enter the balcony area).
Now I was told that even though Mr Newbold had spent so much trying to maintain the building during his tenure he sadly neglected repairs to the roof that when the trust took over the ownership confirmed it was in a really poor state and water had ingressed into many areas of the house. In fact a guide who had been a student there when it was a college confirmed the room that had been her dormitory during her time there was no longer accessible because of water damage and the dreaded asbestos!!
We were told the trust had had to spend over £1.3 million on scaffolding alone since taking over and many millions more on the roof that now thankfully is repaired and reroofed from the same quarry as the original tiles hundreds of years before.
There is also a cafe that does great coffee and a nice sandwich and a dissapointing gift shop (although like most amenities at Wentworth it is a work in progress).
We intended to view the gardens at the baroc side of te mansion however the heavens had very much opened again when we were inside and we had no waterproof gear so our visit had to end here I am afraid.
Now we spent a good couple of hours here but in truth if the weather was good we could have been here from opening to closing as there is so much to see and the grounds are amazing. This place is still very much in its infancy as a tourist attraction and the potential is simply staggering as to how brilliant a public attraction this place can be. I am already planning our next visit and this time I will bring more family!!!!!
As always my opinions are my own and thank you as ever for taking to time to read my meagre little blog.