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Wentworth Hall

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Wentworth Hall
Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Wentworth Hall near Barnsley

Wentworth in May at Rhododendron time when the grounds are opened to the public.




Wentworth Castle, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was the seat of the recreated Earls of Strafford. The house called Stainborough was renamed at some point by Thomas Wentworth, Lord Raby, created Earl of Strafford in 1711. It was still Stainborough in Jan Kip's engraved bird's-eye view of parterres and avenues, 1714, and in the first edition of Vitruvius Britannicus, 1715. The original name of Stainborough Hall remains now, in the form of Stainborough Castle, a sham ruin constructed as a garden folly.

The house was constructed in two great campaigns, by two earls, in remarkably different styles, each time under unusual circumstances, with handsome results.
The first range was built by Thomas Wentworth, Lord Raby, who was the grandson of Sir William Wentworth, younger brother of that first Earl of Strafford who suffered during the reign of Charles I, who to appease Parliament permitted him to be executed (1641) and the title attainted.

The estate of Wentworth Woodhouse, scarcely six miles distant, provided a constant bitter sting, for the Strafford fortune had passed from the great earl's childless son to his wife's nephew, named Watson; only the barony of Raby went to a blood-relation. M.J. Charlesworth surmises that it was a feeling that what by rights should have been his that motivated Wentworth's purchase of Stainborough Castle nearby and that his efforts to surpass the Watsons at Wentworth Woodhouse in splendour and taste motivated the man whom Jonathan Swift called "proud as Hell".
Strafford planted avenues of trees in great quantity in this open countryside, and the sham castle folly (built from 1726 and inscribed "Rebuilt in 1730", now more ruinous than it was at first) that he placed at the highest site, "like an endorsement from the past" and kept free of trees (illustration, left) missed by only a few years being the first sham castle in an English landscape garden.For its central court where the four original towers were named for his four children, the earl commissioned his portrait statue in 1730 from Michael Rysbrack, whom James Gibbs had been the first to employ when he came to England;the statue has been moved closer to the house.
Wentworth Castle was featured on the BBC TV show "Restoration" in 2003, when an attempt was made to restore the Grade 2 Listed Victorian Conservatory to its former glory. Unfortunately, the Conservatory did not win in the viewers' response; subsequently, the Wentworth Castle Trust took the decision in 2005 to support the fragile structure further with a scaffold. Unfortunately, the building is now in a perilous condition, and without urgent funding the structure will be lost forever. The restoration of the Conservatory will cost in the region of 2.5m.

Wentworth Castle is the only Grade 1 Listed Gardens and Parkland in South Yorkshire; it contains twenty-six individually listed structures. It opened fully to visitors in 2007, following the completion of the first phase of restoration, which cost 15.2m.

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