Wentworth Woodhouse to use Levelling Up funding to turn Georgian stables into cafe and hospitality training school

Once workplace and home to hundreds of grooms and stable boys, the stables of Wentworth Woodhouse are now set to provide jobs and training for the hospitality sector.

Redevelopment of a major section of the long-derelict stable block, one of the most impressive in Britain when it was built in the late 1700s, can now get underway thanks to a £4.6million grant from the government’s Levelling Up Fund for the north of England.

The Preservation Trust which has owned the Grade I-listed Rotherham stately home since 2017 was part of a successful Rotherham Council consortium bid to the LUF, announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s autumn budget.

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How one of Yorkshire's finest stately homes at Wentworth Woodhouse is being brou...
The stables are Grade I-listed

The Trust has pledged to create employment and become a major driver of Rotherham’s leisure and tourism sector; it will now be able to further that aim with the redevelopment of 800m2 of the stables’ West Range into fully kitted-out production kitchens, a training facility for new hospitality staff, plus a café.

Work will start in early 2022 and is expected to take two years.

Various government grants have already funded extensive restoration projects at the mansion, including urgent repairs to the roof and the rejuvenation of the derelict Camellia House.

Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust CEO Sarah McLeod: “The Levelling Up Fund is all about giving people in the north the same opportunities as those in the south. This grant makes a massive difference to us, an independent charitable trust trying to make a real difference to the community of South Yorkshire, which we know is a great place to live, work and visit.

Aerial view of the stable block

“We will help deliver the Levelling Up agenda through job creation and upskilling. The hospitality sector is currently experiencing a huge labour shortage; our production kitchens will serve cafes and catering right across our site and give us the facilities to train up our own hospitality team.

“The really wonderful thing about this win is it’s a consortium bid from organisations all proud to be part of Rotherham’s leisure and visitor economy, and determined to drive growth and employment.

“We will be looking to link up with local colleges for hospitality training qualifications and plan to offer valuable hospitality work experience to people with disabilities.”

Wentworth Woodhouse’s huge stable block, located on the driveway to the house, was created for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham by architect John Carr of York.

The West Range will be turned into a training academy

When completed in 1782 it was the largest private stables in the country, and remained so until the late 1900s.

It boasted stables for 84 hunting, riding, and carriage horses. Grooms and stable boys slept in small rooms above the horses and house gardeners also lived at the site.

The kitchen in the West Range will service all on-site hospitality, including afternoon teas, private events, the mansion’s cafe and a new food offer to be developed in the Camellia House.

History of Wentworth Woodhouse stables

Carriages outside the stables in their Edwardian heyday

The stables are an architectural masterpiece and Grade I-listed in their own right.

Designed to replace a smaller version created in the 1630s, they took 16 years to build. There was a riding school, a saddlery and an inner courtyard with a huge fountain supplying water for the horses. It’s rumoured the fountain was filled with wine or beer for tenants to enjoy during birthday celebrations for the Earls Fitzwilliam.

Although some horse stalls remain, there is little evidence of its equine past. With the advent of the motor car, carriage houses were converted into garages.

Parts of the building became the estate offices from 1933 and there was much redevelopment in the 1940s and 50s by the British Army, who had a base there and used the riding school as the NAAFI restaurant.

The site was altered again in the late 1940s to accommodate the Lady Mabel College of Physical Education, which was based at Wentworth Woodhouse from 1949-79. Rooms for drama, arts and crafts and English lessons, physiology and biology laboratories, a sports hall and gymnasium were created in the stables and riding school.

When WWPT took over in March 2017 the buildings had been neglected for decades and were in a very poor state.

Intelligence Corps motorcycle riders trained at the stables when it was requisitioned by the army in the 1940s

Roof repairs have now taken place to prevent further damage from rainwater and debris has been cleared.

In the last few years film crews have used the stables for their productions. The BBC created a sitting room for the BAFTA-winning series Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell in 2014/15, and ITV staged a toy shop scene for an episode of the series Victoria.