Turning Back the Hands of Time at Wentworth Woodhouse

Art and architecture
Wentworth Woodhouse North Pavillion weather vane Sarah McLeod

Earlier this month, specialist conservators started the next phase of work at Wentworth Woodhouse – essential repairs to the North Pavilion. The North Pavilion sits at the end of the Palladian East Front and greets visitors as they arrive.

Work will involve restoring the roof, stonework repairs, meticulous conservation to the two clock faces, cornices, weather vane and repairs to the guttering.

Barnsley-based clock restoration specialist Andrew Bates, of Bygone Times, will painstakingly restore the clock mechanisms and hands to their former glory. Scaffolding, a now familiar site at Wentworth Woodhouse, encases the Pavilion for the works to formally start.

The scaffolding is in itself another feat of engineering.  It is designed to work around the existing buildings without impacting on historic fabric.  Approximately 150 tonnes of scaffolding towers 22m into the sky to facilitate the repairs, laid end to end it would stretch 12km.

In addition to working with the physical restrictions of adjacent structures, no holes can be made in the walls of the listed building to fix the scaffolding in place. Instead, friction ties are used, whereby the scaffold rests against the building on friction pads. The project shows the continued investment in protecting Wentworth Woodhouse for generations to come.

Repairs will be supported by a grant of £811,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, administered by Historic England.

Help towards operational costs is being provided by the National Trust and National Lottery Heritage Fund and a number of other charitable trusts and vital private donations.

The 20-year Masterplan to rescue Wentworth Woodhouse is broken down into manageable phases, based on urgency of repair need, ability of the new use to generate income to be self-sustaining, and the ability to attract funding. Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust CEO Sarah McLeod said: “During the pandemic we were able to finish repairs to the most vulnerable areas of the Mansion’s roof and were incredibly grateful to also receive a lifeline grant from the Culture Recovery Fund.

“It means we can keep heritage craftsmen in work and tackle other roofs in a number of Grade I listed areas which are also in a critical state of decay. The North Pavilion is the first of those tasks.”

Ms McLeod

There is an immense amount of skill going into the project and that includes those of local clock restorer Andrew Bates, who is freely giving us his expertise.

The team celebrated a key milestone on 17th February as the 400kg weather vane was carefully removed by crane for conservation. The North Pavillion repairs are expected to take in the region of six months to complete.

Wentworth Woodhouse east front

Wentworth Woodhouse

Wentworth, South Yorkshire, S62 7TQ

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