21 Jul 2016
Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse
A party of fifteen travelled to Wentworth to take a tour round Wentworth Woodhouse.
The title and estate have had a chequered history due to the owner of the time dying without an heir. This meant that the estate could be passed to a female relative, but she could not inherit the title. That had to be passed to a nephew, or in one case to a distant cousin - very complicated.
The house began as a Tudor building but as the owners accumulated wealth, mainly due to extensive coal mining, the house was "modernised" and extended. It now has 365 rooms, depending on how a room is defined. Does a corridor with a fireplace constitute a room? The most famous feature of the house is the very large frontage - some 627 feet, the largest in Europe.
The guide took us through about a dozen of the rooms stopping in each one to explain its brief history. Several rooms changed function according to the whim of the current occupier. Whilst the house was taken over during the second world war, the marble floors were covered by plywood to protect them from soldiers' (hobnail) boots. After the war, the house became the Lady Mabel College - an educational establishment for training female PE teachers. This time the many paintings and statuary had to be protected from the activities of the students.
One of the most interesting features were the ceilings in each room. They were all plaster ceilings and each one was different. There was one ceiling which was covered in flowers, each in its own little surround, and every one was unique.
The tour ended where it began, in the pillared hall, the first room previous visitors would have seen. A large area dominated by rows of pillars leading to the grand staircase where the group posed for our souvenir photograph.