£468,000 winter life-saver for Wentworth Woodhouse

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The Palladian East Front of Wentworth Woodhouse

Trust wins grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund 

Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham has received a £468,262 financial lifeline  from the Government to help it through the coronavirus pandemic this winter.

The Grade I listed stately home being repaired and regenerated by the trust which now owns it, has been awarded the emergency funding from the first round of the Government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.

The grants are intended to deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England.

Sarah McLeod, CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust commented: 

“This funding has come at a critical time. It will help us to survive through the winter,” said

“We can pay wages for key staff, keeping jobs safe and enabling the team to plan around the pandemic and potential lockdowns.

“It is crucial we diversify to find new, COVID-19-safe ways to engage with our visitors and supporters.”

Around £110,000 from the grant will take the 18th century mansion 21st century – with virtual visits and experiences.

“We can now purchase equipment for a digital hub. Developing our digital skills will allow us to operate whether our doors are open or closed,” said Ms McLeod.

“We will be devising some exciting ways for people to engage with us, such as augmented reality tours, videos and filming equipment so from their owns homes people can explore the house, go on an online treasure hunt or virtually attend a historical lecture.” 

The Trust threw open its vast gardens to the public in the summer to provide safe spaces and crucial income during the mansion’s closure as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

The grant will fund extra equipment and facilities so visitors can enjoy the grounds through the winter.

Three shepherd’s huts will be available for daily hire by families, visitors with disabilities or even artists wanting quiet, creative space.

The purchase of an adapted golf buggy will transport less mobile visitors to all four corners of the garden.

Two trailers will be bought, one to expand outdoor catering and the other will become a mobile learning space for year-round outdoor art and craft workshops, including wreath-making and flower-arranging.

Also on the shopping list are long-range two-way radios, parasols, external tables and chairs and matting to stop car parking areas becoming too muddy.

The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is administered at arms length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Wentworth Woodhouse is one of 433 organisations in England, including Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and the Piecehall in Halifax, to receive a share of £67 million allocated to help with costs for operating, reopening and recovery.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post COVID.” 

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial. 

“Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time. 

 “Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

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