Work restarts on vital £5million roof repairs at 350-room Wentworth Woodhouse mansion

Work has resumed on a vital £ 5 million roof repair on a Grade II listed mansion in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Contractors were replacing the six tennis court roof at Wentworth Woodhouse in a project that cost £ 30,000 a month but had to pause work because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The project is gaining momentum again with a number of new security measures to protect stonemasons, carpenters and roofers on site.

Work has resumed on a vital £ 5 million roof repair at the listed Wentworth Woodhouse mansion in Rotherham

The house is said to have been the inspiration for Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley house in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust bought the house for £ 7million in 2017 and oversaw the building’s redevelopment project after Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £ 7.6million to fix the leaky roof – and effectively save the property.

The mansion stopped tours, events and closed its doors to visitors on March 20 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following this month's government guidelines for the construction sector, the project is now regaining momentum with a range of new security measures to protect the local heritage stonemasons, carpenters and roofers

Following this month’s government guidelines for the construction sector, the project is now regaining momentum with a range of new security measures to protect the local heritage stonemasons, carpenters and roofers

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust bought the house for £ 7m in 2017 and oversaw the redevelopment project

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust bought the house for £ 7m in 2017 and oversaw the redevelopment project

The Trust announced in March that its 52 employees had been paid by the end of the month and its 212 volunteers, who provided more than 22,333 hours of unpaid support in 2019, had resigned.

Dame Julie Kenny, Founder and Chair of the Trust, said in March: “Wentworth Woodhouse will reopen in style once the Covid-19 crisis is over and we want everyone to come back into effect – all of our staff, volunteers and loyal supporters . “

The building, whose 606-foot facade is wider than Buckingham Palace, was once Britain’s largest private residence, but fell into neglect and decay in the second half of the 20th century.

The 18th century property near Rotherham has around 350 rooms and eight kilometers of corridors.

For generations it belonged to the Wentworth, Watson and Fitzwilliam families, the walls were lined with masterpieces by Raphael and Titian, and the guest book was signed by King George V.

Specialist contractors are replacing the six tennis court roof of Wentworth Woodhouse in a project costing £ 30,000 per month

Specialist contractors are replacing the six tennis court roof of Wentworth Woodhouse in a project costing £ 30,000 per month

The 18th century property near Rotherham has around 350 rooms and eight kilometers of corridors

The 18th century property near Rotherham has around 350 rooms and eight kilometers of corridors

In 2016 then-Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £ 7.6 million handout for restoration work on Wentworth Woodhouse (a worker performing the arduous task of restoring the original features).

In 2016 then-Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £ 7.6 million handout for restoration work on Wentworth Woodhouse (a worker performing the arduous task of restoring the original features).

The mansion has stood for Buckingham Palace on the Hollywood war blockbuster Darkest Hour. Parts were used in the Timothy Spall movie Mr Turner about famous British artist JMW Turner.

In 2018 it was revealed that more than 100 investigations had been carried out on the property, revealing the horror of its “critical state of disrepair” with endemic dry rot, crumbling masonry, collapsed drains and asbestos contamination.

There is also a shop and coffee shop on site, and the National Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund gave money in 2018 to help move the project forward.

Some of the sumptuous reception rooms, including the whistlejacket room with a copy of the painting that once hung there, were restored a few years ago to give an idea of ​​what the aristocratic house once looked like.

The building, whose 606-foot facade is wider than Buckingham Palace, was once Britain's largest private residence, but fell into neglect and decay in the second half of the 20th century

The building, whose 606-foot facade is wider than Buckingham Palace, was once Britain’s largest private residence, but fell into neglect and decay in the second half of the 20th century

Pictured is the eastern end of the long gallery shown here with its polished wooden floor and ornate ceilings

Pictured is the eastern end of the long gallery shown here with its polished wooden floor and ornate ceilings

The renovation of the property can take more than 20 years.  In the picture: the marble salon in the villa

The renovation of the property can take more than 20 years. In the picture: the marble salon in the villa

The abandoned servants' quarters in Wentworth Woodhouse were overtaken by rubble in 2018

The abandoned servants’ quarters in Wentworth Woodhouse were overtaken by rubble in 2018

Headless statue in gardens in need of repair on the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate depicted in 2018

Headless statue in gardens in need of repair on the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate depicted in 2018

Was Wentworth Woodhouse the inspiration for Jane Austen’s pride and prejudice?

During his November 2016 fall speech, Philip Hammond announced a £ 7.6 million handout for restoration work at Wentworth Woodhouse. He told MPs, “It is said to be the inspiration for Pemberley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.” This claim has since been denied.

When Austen began writing Pride and Prejudice in 1797, the estate was owned by the Fitzwilliams. Many fans have noticed that the main character in the romantic novel is called Fitzwilliam Darcy, and point out that the stately mansion was the inspiration in the book.

Like Pemberley, it has a park wall ten miles long, a hill with trees and water features. But that’s where the similarity ends, since there aren’t any oaks or Spanish chestnuts that Austen talked about in the book.

The claim Philip Hammond made about the Wentworth Woodhouse mansion as the inspiration for Pemberley in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has been denied

The claim Philip Hammond made about the Wentworth Woodhouse mansion as the inspiration for Pemberley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has been denied

Furthermore, the huge property would have cost up to £ 100,000 a year to maintain – but Mr Darcy should only have an income of around £ 10,000 (£ 1 million in today’s money).

The Jane Austen Society at the time also denied Mr Hammond’s claim, telling the Guardian that there was no evidence that the renowned author ever visited the mansion.

A spokesman said: “There is absolutely no evidence that Jane Austen ever traveled further north than Lichfield, Staffordshire. There are other places like Chatsworth that claim to be the role model for Pemberley. ‘

Historians have confirmed that Austen visited Chatsworth, Derbyshire, two years before the book was published in 1813. Hence, both Woodhouse and Chatsworth are at the fore in the debate about which mansion inspired Austen.

The Duke of Devonshire told the Guardian: “Some people say Chatsworth is the inspiration for Pemberley, others say it is the Wentworth Woodhouse – we should ask Jane Austen for a final answer.

“However, as a member of the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, I am pleased to hear that the government has made a grant to help maintain this wonderful building.”

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