Plans to transform the derelict Camellia House, Riding School and Stables at Wentworth Woodhouse can start to blossom, thanks to initial support of £1.5million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The grant, made possible by the UK’s National Lottery players, will finance the first stage of developing proposals to transform the listed 18th and 19th century buildings into a cafe and multi-purpose events spaces.
“The award is fantastic news. It is the breakthrough that enables us to now start delivering on our Masterplan,” said Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust CEO Sarah McLeod.
“This money will allow us to get started on bringing new life to the redundant buildings on our 83-acre site. Architects can be hired to develop designs and apply for planning permission.”
The Masterplan, launched last autumn at Downing Street, revealed its first major restoration project would be the redevelopment of the garden’s Grade II* listed Camellia House into a daytime cafe and events venue by 2022.
Though now a shell, the building which began life as an 18th century menagerie, still houses some of the oldest and rarest camellias in the Western world. Camellias were first brought from China and Japan in the mid-1700s.
The £1.5m grant will also be used to spark the Trust’s ambitious £49.2million plans to transform the Grade I listed stables and riding school.
Originally built for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham’s race horses in the late 1700s, they will become a large events space, with visitor facilities and a cafe. The space could be hosting large wedding parties and corporate events for up to 600 people by 2027.
Added Sarah McLeod: “Transforming these wonderful but neglected centuries-old spaces will enable us to expand what we offer visitors and the local community. This will bring in additional revenue, securing the future of the house.”
As the plans develop and fundraising campaigns start, public consultations will be held to give local people opportunities to get involved and suggest what activities and events they would like the spaces to host. This will help Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust to progress its plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.