The first task will be the redevelopment of the garden’s derelict Grade II* listed Camellia House into a daytime cafe and events venue.
The building began life as part of an 18th century menagerie and was transformed into a home for the Marquess’s prized camellias.
The blooms were immensely popular at the time, having first arrived from China and Japan in the mid-1700s.
Though now a shell, Wentworth’s Camellia House still houses some of the oldest and rarest camellias in the Western world. They will have pride of place in the newly-developed space, which could be open by 2022.
Schoolchildren and local community groups will be involved in the journey. £500,000 is being gathered via grants to enable a rich programme of activities to be created. Everything from forestry schools to horticultural projects will be running in 2021, as the design team and builders go about their work.
The Postcode Lottery Fund has already donated £20,000 to set up an ‘edible classroom’, where children learn about the cycle of food, from sowing and growing to cooking and eating.
A test project has run successfully with children from Wentworth Junior and Infant School.
The activity programme will continue in the gardens near the Camellia House after its restoration.
Plans can now blossom thanks to £1.5million of initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
However, £3.5million needs to be raised for the Camellia House transformation, with the public’s help – so that building contractors can be booked to begin work next year.
National Lottery Heritage Fund grant applications over £250,000 are assessed in two rounds. Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust has initially been granted development funding of £1.5million, allowing it to progress with its plans.
Detailed proposals are then considered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund at the second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £3.3 million.
As the Trust’s plans develop and fundraising campaigns start, public consultations will be held to give local people opportunities to get involved and suggest what activities and events they would like the spaces to host.
This will help the Trust to progress the application for a full National Lottery grant.