Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham is among 142 historic sites across England set to receive grants totalling £35 million through the government’s Culture Recovery Fund
Funding of £542,500 will pay for vital roof repairs to the South Pavillion on the Grade I listed mansion’s famed Palladian East Front.
The grant has been awarded by Historic England from the second round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, which is part of the Culture Recovery Fund.
Wentworth Woodhouse is being regenerated by a Preservation Trust and over the last four years, huge strides have been made to repair roofs over rooms and buildings being destroyed by rain damage.
The mansion’s 606 feet Palladian East front has pavilions at each end. The 1st Marquess of Rockingham’s flourishing touches to his ever-expanding Georgian stately home, the North and South Pavillions are almost identical bookends.
Both were found to be in dire need of major roof repairs. Rain had penetrated for decades and the buildings were deteriorating.
Earlier this year, specialist conservators carried out essential repairs to the North Pavilion, along with roof repairs to the North and South Quadrant and Long Gallery West. The project took six months and was funded by a grant of £811,000 from the first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, administered by Historic England.
“We are so grateful to hear that we have been awarded a further sum in the second wave of grants,” said WWPT’s CEO Sarah McLeod.
“The first grant we received from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund threw us a much-needed lifeline in the pandemic. We were able to finish repairs to the most vulnerable areas of the Mansion’s roof and carry out vital repairs to the North Pavilion, keeping heritage craftsmen in work.
“Finding out that we can now keep the South Pavilion safe is very welcome news.”
The £542,500 will be spent on repairing the roof, its guttering and stonework so the building can be made water-tight.
Its weather vane will be restored and re-gilded to match the lustre of the newly-refurbished vane on the North Pavilion.
The contract for the work is currently out to tender with heritage construction specialists. Scaffolding will be erected before Christmas and most of the work to be completed by March with the project finished in its entirety by June.
WWPT’s research team have uncovered inventories from the 1700s which list both pavilions as storage areas.
In the early 1800s part of the South Pavilion was known as Lord Milton’s study. He became the 5th Earl in 1833 and his interest in architecture led to the creation of the mansion’s main staircase. During the Lady Mabel College years pupils could book what was known as the Adam Room in the South Pavilion if they were expecting visitors.
Money from the government’s £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund is intended to open up heritage and the benefits it brings to everyone, helping to level up and improve life and opportunities for people in places that need it most.
Many of the organisations and sites receiving funding for vital repairs and major building programmes enhance wellbeing and community connection, offering education, development opportunities and jobs in some of the most deprived communities hit hard by the impact of the pandemic. A high number of them are currently on the national Heritage at Risk Register.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries praised the far-reaching effects of the grants. She commented: “From local churches to ancient buildings and landscapes, the UK’s unique heritage makes our towns, cities and villages stronger, more vibrant and helps bring communities together.
“This latest funding – £35 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund – will help protect sites including Jane Austen’s House and Hampton Court Palace for future generations and help them build back better from the pandemic.”
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said: “Funding from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund is hugely welcome at a time when the people and organisations who look after our vast and varied array of heritage urgently need support to carry out essential repairs. Heritage is a fragile eco-system, with an amazing cast of characters who keep our historic places alive, with specialist skills that take time to learn and experience to perfect. These grants will protect their livelihoods, as they use their expertise to help our heritage survive.
“Money from the Heritage Stimulus Fund will also keep our nationally and internationally significant heritage assets in good condition and sustain the skilled craft workforce that looks after them.”
The latest £35 million funding awards builds on £52 million already allocated from the first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, which has supported works at 800 of the country’s treasured heritage assets. This includes Blackpool’s iconic Tower Ballroom, the stunning Georgian landscape at Gibside in Gateshead and the tranquil Thornton-le-Beans Chapel in North Yorkshire.
None of these historic places would have been able to carry out crucial repair work during the pandemic without this support.