Love will last the tests of time at Wentworth Woodhouse

Couple who have Made Their Mark at the mansion issue Valentine’s Day appeal 

Rotherham man Tom Packer and his American bride Acacia may live thousands of miles away in Tucson, Arizona, but their heart belongs to Wentworth Woodhouse. 

Having plighted their troth on the front lawns of the stately home three years ago, the couple were thrilled to hear their love will truly now last the tests of time thanks to the house. 

Their names and the date of their engagement are now etched forever in the roof of the 18th century mansion. 

Tom’s mum Lynne Packer, of Clifton, surprised the couple by joining in Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust’s fundraising appeal Make Your Mark in History to sponsor a roof slate in their name. 

The family are now urging other people to mark their love by supporting the appeal this Valentine’s Day. 

Lynne knew it was the ideal present for the couple: “They visit the house on every trip home so they can see the progress of the restoration. Undoubtedly it’s their favourite place – not least because it’s where Tom proposed,” she said. “At home in Arizona they have pictures of the house on the wall. 

“So many couples hold the house in their hearts and Valentine’s Day would be the perfect opportunity for them to show their support and their love for each other at the same time.” 

Lynne and the house have history, too. She was a pupil there from 1974-77 during its time as the Lady Mabel College of Physical Education and has many fond memories and friendships from those years. 

She went on to become a youth worker with Rotherham Council and from 2003-11 managed Rush House homeless project, but always found time to take Tom and his sister Lauren to walk through the grounds of Wentworth Woodhouse and Tom would tell his mum he was going to live there when he was older. 

Years later, Tom was travelling regularly to the U.S. with work and became friends with Acacia. He sent her a photo of the house and she instantly fell in love with the place. 

Said former Oakwood pupil Tom, 33, who works in IT: “They don’t really have houses with such history in America. We joked that when we got older we’d retire there together.” 

Some five years later their friendship turned to love, and when he brought her to Rotherham to meet his family in August 2016, the trip included Acacia’s first visit to the stately home he had told her so much about. 

He proposed to her on the front lawn. 

“My mum helped me arrange access, the setting was perfect and Acacia said yes, and then we had the privilege of being invited into the house for a quick look around and some tea – something I’d wanted to do for as long as I remember. It’s a day neither of us will ever forget.”  

The couple married two years ago. 

Added Tom: “My mum’s gift of a slate for the roof was absolutely perfect. I have loved the house from a very early age. Acacia loved it from afar, and on seeing it in person was blown away by how stunning and precious it is. 

“We love the fact that we’ll be a small part of the incredible history of Wentworth Woodhouse long after we’re gone. We urge everyone to seize Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to leave a tribute to their love too.” 

The couple hope their next visit to the stately home will be with their son, who is due in July. 

 WWPT’s Make Your Mark in History appeal asks supporters to sponsor a slate destined for the roof for a suggested minimum donation of £50. Sponsors can have their slate etched with messages and names, following a tradition set by craftsmen who have secretly been leaving their mark in the roof for more than 200 years. The appeal hopes to raise up to £200,000 towards the estimated £150million needed to restore the house. Find out more at www.wentworthwoodhouse.org.uk/campaign/make-your-mark

Set within 87 acres of gardens and parkland, Wentworth Woodhouse offers a breath-taking backdrop for your big day and is a truly unique wedding destination. With a variety of stunning state rooms available for civil ceremonies, wedding breakfasts and receptions, our dedicated team provide a first-class service, from discussing your initial ideas through to co-ordinating your perfect day. For more information, please contact our Weddings Officer Tracie Midgley on 01226 351161 or occasions@wentworthwoodhouse.org.uk