Rotherham stately home Wentworth Woodhouse is going greener… and warmer. Thanks to a £331,200 grant, its Preservation Trust can forge ahead with plans to replace its old and inadequate gas central heating with a house-wide system powered by a ground-source heat pump.
A large portion of the funds, received this month from the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund, will pay for plans to explore how and where to install the renewable energy system. The Trust will also use a portion of the grant to carry out urgent repairs to underground drainage, create a new water mains connection and remove asbestos from the mansion’s cellar. The money will also pay for a temporary heating solution for the mansion until more funds can be raised to buy and install the ground source heat pump.
The mansion’s first heating system was installed around 1908 by the 7th Earl Fitzwilliam. The coal-fuelled, water-filled system with an extensive network of pipes and radiators supplying most of the house would have been cutting-edge. The same pipes and radiators are still in use today in the West and East Central areas of the mansion, but the fuel is now gas and the bill is around £28,000 a year.
The Trust linked up with 20 other properties in the Historic Houses Association to put in a collaborative bid for the first round of awards from the Government fund. Administered at arms-length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, it delivers a lifeline for the heritage sector in England, helping cherished heritage sites affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.
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.”
In the first tranche of awards, 445 organisations received up to £1m from a £103 million pot. Wentworth was one of only six houses fortunate to benefit via the HHA bid.
Sarah McLeod, CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, has thanked Historic England and the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport for its ‘fantastic commitment’:
“They have supported the Trust right from the start and have shown once again they are there for us. We were up against some very deserving HHA properties and are incredibly grateful. We are in dire need of these repairs and are determined to forge ahead with plans for a heating system which will not only be much more efficient, but will be green and sustainable.”
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said: “It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”