Can your ideas help Wentworth Woodhouse to bloom?

It’s a blooming great idea...

Friday, 18th June 2021, 9:48 am
Activity Planning Consultant Dr Suzanne Carter with handmade blooms at the Camellia House
Activity Planning Consultant Dr Suzanne Carter with handmade blooms at the Camellia House

Supporters can be part of what happens at Wentworth Woodhouse - by getting crafty and penning their best ideas on a hand-made camellia flower or carriage horse.

Garden workshops making cute paper blooms and horses are some of the imaginative ways for the public to express their hopes for the Rotherham mansion, which was one of England’s grandest stately homes when it was built for the Marquess of Rockingham in the 1700s.

The Marquess was head of one of the wealthiest families in the land. But the Grade I listed country house is now being regenerated by a Preservation Trust who took ownership in 2017 - and the message is loud and clear: Wentworth Woodhouse belongs to you, too.

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Activity Planning Consultant Dr Suzanne Carter, pictured with volunteer Jonathan Robinson with handmade blooms at the Camellia House

The Trust is inviting communities across South Yorkshire to have their say.

Ideas from the public will shape a programme of heritage and ‘wellbeing’ activities for local people and create opportunities to develop skills and enjoy new experiences. These will run alongside future regeneration projects at the Camellia House, Stables and Riding School.

Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, activity planning consultant Suzanne Carter has been commissioned to carry out engagement and consultation work and develop ideas for a four-year programme of activities.

A plan for events, community projects and engagement will be submitted as part of an application to the NHLF’s second-round of grants later this year.

Suzanne said: “Wentworth Woodhouse is an important part of Rotherham’s heritage and It’s wonderful to see the public’s support for this extraordinary place.

“Community is at the heart of the Trust’s regeneration plans and it is really important that local people have the opportunity to contribute to decision-making about its future.”

Craft activities are free and every child under eight taking part receives a free Wentworth Woodhouse T-shirt. Sessions run until the end of August, then the camellias and horses will go on display and be photographed inside the derelict Camellia House and Riding School.

Suzanne said: "They say a picture is worth a thousand words - and we are aiming for thousands of words and mini artworks to create a stunning display which will assure potential funders that local communities and visitors want to see the Camellia House, Riding School and Stables regenerated and that people have helped us shape an engaging, inclusive programme of activities, experiences and opportunities that everyone can benefit from in the future.”

People who can’t attend can make and send a picture using downloadable templates, written instructions and ‘how to make’ films on the website https://wentworthwoodhouse.org.uk/news/wentworthshaping-camellia-house/

Supporters can also take part in a survey http://bit.ly/wentworthshaping to share ideas about what they would like to do and discover in the gardens.

They will be asked to select which intriguing heritage facts and stories will become the themes of future visitor experiences and come up with ideas to help Wentworth forge stronger relationships with local communities.

Redeveloping the Grade II* listed Camellia House into a daytime cafe and evening events venue is Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust’s first major project to bring a derelict building back into use.

It is taking the building back to its past life - in 1738 it was an orangery with a tea room created for Lady Rockingham, wife of the 1st Marquess, to entertain her guests.

It became home to camellias when the second Marquess became one of the earliest English collectors of the rare blooms being brought from China and Japan in Georgian times.

Now without a roof, the building still houses some of the oldest and rarest camellias in the Western world. They will have pride of place when the building becomes a daytime cafe and evening events venue.

It is hoped building work will begin next year if fundraising for the multi-million-pound scheme goes to plan.

There are big plans for three other 18th and 19th century buildings. The Riding School is earmarked as a multi-media and events space, the Southern Range of the Stables for events and cafe spaces and the Ostler’s House as overnight guest accommodation.