Supporters of Rotherham stately home Wentworth Woodhouse will need to be quick if they want to see its beautiful Palladian frontage completely scaffold-free. The Grade I listed mansion has been shrouded in a huge scaffold shell for the last 18 months as £7.6million of roof repairs were carried out. Work is almost complete and the metal shroud is now coming down at a rapid rate.
But thanks to a lifeline government grant of £720,000 announced this weekend, further vital roof work can soon begin at each end of the famed East Front. Scaffolding will be erected next month and work is scheduled to start in January, thanks to Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust being announced as one of 162 organisations to be successful in the latest round of grants from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.
More than £9 million has been allocated by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to ensure jobs and access to arts, culture and heritage in local communities are protected in the months ahead. Historic England has allocated £3,971,513 in awards from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of a £120million capital investment from the Culture Recovery Fund, to restart construction and maintenance projects facing delays or increased costs as a result of the pandemic and save specialist livelihoods in the sector.
Over the last three years, roof repairs have been ongoing over Wentworth Woodhouse’s Riding School and the mansion’s central block of State Rooms,the eastern section of the Long Gallery, its Bedlam Wing and Chapel. The emergency grant now means roofs over the Mansion’s North Pavilion, North and South Quadrants, the Meter House and a further section of the Long Gallery can also be made safe. This will protect rooms below, contribute to the building’s sustainability and support jobs in construction and traditional crafts, such as stonemasonry and lead-working.
Sarah McLeod, CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, said: “We are incredibly grateful to receive this very generous Heritage At Risk Repair Grant.
“Over the last three years a huge amount of vital repair work has been undertaken to protect the buildings and their beautiful architectural features.
“This grant means we can now tackle other roofs in a number of Grade I listed areas which are also in a critical state of decay.” Added Ms McLeod: “Wentworth Woodhouse is arguably the greatest and most challenging restoration project for a generation and the strong relationship we have with Historic England is of immense support to us, in particular their team based in York. They are always on hand with expert guidance.”
The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced the awards on Saturday (Nov 7). They build on £103million of Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage grants awarded to significant historic places last month. Wentworth Woodhouse received £468,262 from this pot, which was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to help it through the coronavirus pandemic this winter. The sum will pay wages for key staff to plan around the pandemic and protect jobs.
“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities,” said Oliver Dowden. “From St Paul’s and Ronnie Scott’s to The Lowry and Durham Cathedral, we’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it can bounce back strongly.”
Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, said: “Historic places across the country, from Durham Cathedral embodying more than a thousand years of history to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, much loved by children and grownups alike, are being supported by the Government’s latest round of grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kickstarting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of Covid-19. It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help to keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”