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Great Progress on Work to Save Grade I Listed Wentworth Woodhouse

  • Urgent repairs completed at impressive Wentworth Woodhouse by descendant of original mason who helped build the house
  • Behind the scenes work reveals new insights into the lives of previous owners
  • Contractors to start this month to take on the major roof repairs on this exceptional Grade I building
  • Visitors invited to see progress

Wentworth Woodhouse is famous for its enormous size and architectural beauty. Built mainly during the 18th century, it is said that the house has a room for every day of the year and a staircase for every month. Its east front, at 185 metres long, is one of the longest country house façades in Britain, twice the length of Buckingham Palace. However, over many years the house has suffered decay and it was added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2016.

Local craftsman Paul Furniss, descendant of original mason who helped build the house, has been working on the house for the last nine months to carry out a programme of urgent repairs. The work has made key areas of the buildings stable and weather-tight, and prepared the ground for a major phase of roof repairs beginning this month. The work has also revealed some of the house’s hidden areas:

The Game Larder

Built in the 19th century to store the vast number of game birds killed during shoots on the estate. The house became a college after the Second World War and the game larder was converted into kitchen stores. The removal of modern partitions and extensions has revealed the splendour of this octagonal building, showing the vast scale of catering at Wentworth Woodhouse during the Victorian period.

Game Larder interior at Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Game Larder, Wentworth Woodhouse © Paul Furniss

The Pink WC

Concerns about a “wobbly wall” led to the discovery of the Earl Fitzwilliam’s octagonal outside toilet, the Pink WC. The spacious interior is elaborated with decorative plasterwork and the original pink colour is still visible under later flaking paint.

Door to the Earl Fitzwilliam's octagonal outside toilet, the Pink WC
Door to the Pink WC © Paul Furniss

First phase repairs

This first phase of repairs cost more than £360,000, and was part of a government grant totalling £7.6 million. The grant will fund essential repairs to the house and its enormous Riding School and Stable Block. Repairs will focus on the roofs, gutters and downpipes and stonework, making the buildings sound and waterproof to protect the magnificent interiors and ensure the buildings can be restored for new uses.

Historic England’s Yorkshire team is managing the government grant. We're working closely with the house’s new owners, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, to ensure that the repairs are carried out to the highest standard and that the best possible value for money is achieved.

Game Larder roof, view from above.
Game Larder roof © Paul Furniss

The house’s south east wing is known as Bedlam, perhaps because it provided accommodation for house parties and could be a bit rowdy. The roof slates were removed and replaced with a temporary covering in September and it has remained dry for the first winter in many years.

Bedlam will be re-slated, along with the chapel and the Riding School, as part of a major phase of repairs due to start in April. Aura Conservation, of Stockport, has been appointed to carry out these repairs, which have been prioritised due to the extremely poor condition of the roofs. A further phase of work will begin later in the year and will focus on the centre of the east front, the oak staircase and grand staircase, protecting the most significant interiors.

Bedlam Wing, stripping slate prior to temporary roofing.
Bedlam Wing Roof, Wentworth Woodhouse © Paul Furniss

Visit Wentworth

The house and grounds will remain open as a visitor attraction during the repairs and special tours will be organised so that visitors can see the progress of repair works – for more details visit the Wentworth Woodhouse website.

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