I was curious to find out why there are two Wentworth stately homes, Wentworth Woodhouse and Wentworth Castle, just a few miles apart near Barnsley in South Yorkshire.
Apparently this was as a result of a family dispute.
Thomas Wentworth, Baron Raby, expected to inherit the stately home of Wentworth Woodhouse from his grandfather, Sir William Wentworth, when he died in 1695. However the house and estate passed to a non-blood relative, Sir William’s nephew, Thomas Watson.
This motivated Thomas Wentworth to purchase a nearby estate and to build Wentworth Castle on the site to try to match the splendour of Wentworth Woodhouse.
The massive Georgian house of Wentworth Woodhouse has over 300 rooms and landscaped grounds. It was only recently opened to public access following purchase by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust in 2016.
It is included in the Historic Houses portfolio of properties and members get free entry to the House and Gardens.
The smaller, but equally magnificent, Wentworth Castle is now used as a college with no public access, but the extensive Gardens have been opened up by the National Trust, with free entry for members.
I spent an interesting, but quite energetic, afternoon visiting both sites with just a fifteen minute drive between the two.
Wentworth Woodhouse House Tour
The tour of the house is by free flow, although there is a route that can be followed through the ground and first floors. The upper floors are being renovated at the cost of £42 million.
Some of the state rooms are rather lacking in furnishings and pictures, partly as a result of payment of death duties in the 1940s and 50s, but I still found much of interest to see.
Entry to the house is via the Pillared Hall with Tuscan columns which provide a backdrop to neoclassical statues. This leads through to the Ship Room, the Low Drawing Room and the Painted Drawing Room, with wall paintings depicting the five senses. A long corridor leads to the Chapel which dates back to 1734.
A double curved Staircase leads to the magnificent Marble Saloon which was used as a ballroom in Downton Abbey in 2019.
Other first floor rooms include the Whistlejacket Room (with a Stubbs painting of the racehorse Whistlejacket), the Van Dyck Room, the Stuart Room, the Large Dining Room, the Libraries and the opulent Long Gallery, which is now used for afternoon teas.
On this occasion, I decided to forgo the delicious-looking racks of sandwiches and cakes and instead headed down a small stone staircase to the café and relaxed over a cup of coffee before exploring the grounds.
Wentworth Woodhouse Grounds
There about 90 acres of grounds which include small garden areas. Entrance to the grounds is via the the chapel corridor and past the back of the house which is a mish-mash of red brickwork.
I toured the grounds in a clockwise direction. Notable features as I walked along the South Terrace were the Punch Bowl and the Ionic Temple, which was covered in scaffolding for renovation, as was the nearby Camelia House. There were sweeping views of the surrounding countryside from the terrace.
The Herbaceous Borders in front of the Camelia House were not at there best when I visited in late September.
From there I made my way back towards the house past features like a Grizzly Bear statue, a beehive clearing (but no beehives) and an Ice House.
I found the most attractive part of the gardens to be the circular Mulberry Garden, just by the house, which had a profusion of dahlias and a strange headless statue in the centre.
I enjoyed my two and a half mile walk around the grounds, but look forward to returning when the renovation work has been completed and maybe earlier in the year when the borders are in full bloom.
Wentworth Castle Gardens
Even in September the 50 acres of Gardens at Wentworth Castle were well stocked and colourful.
Starting from the car park and Visitor’s Centre, it is a mile walk uphill through the Gardens to Stainborough Castle, an 18th Century mock castle folly with views for miles around.
The path passes in front of Wentworth Castle and meanders through a series of gardens, including the John Arnold Garden, the Victorian Garden, the Union Jack Garden and the Azalea Garden.
Along the way there are various features such as the Ha Ha Bridge, the Corinthian Temple, the Earl’s Seat and the Sun Monument.
After enjoying the views from Stainborough Castle, I headed back to the Visitor’s Centre via the Fernery and the tree-lined Lady Lucy’s Walk, stopping along the way to visit the attractively set out Victorian Conservatory. The Longbarn Café and a children’s play area are near to the Visitor’s Centre.
In addition to the Gardens, there are 500 acres of parkland with features like the Argyll Monument, the Rotunda and the Queen Anne Monument, plus a deer park and the man-made Serpentine river. But these will all have to await my return visit.
Entry to Wentworth Woodhouse House & Gardens is £11.00 for adults and free for children up to 16 years. However, if you take up annual membership with Historic Houses, you will get free entry, plus free entry to 300 other heritage sites. Enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’ and new members will receive a £5 discount. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.
Entry to Wentworth Castle Gardens is £5.00 for adults and £2.50 for children, but free for National Trust members. Check our special offer on National Trust membership.
We have reviewed several other properties under Historic Houses and National Trust. See also Historic Houses versus National Trust – Which to join?
Additional Photographs – Wentworth Woodhouse
Additional Photographs – Wentworth Castle
POSTED 20th JANUARY 2023 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.