Monday, 30 January 2017

A Walk Around Wentworth Village

A view of Wentworth Woodhouse from Hoober Stand

Having spent the last year investigating the building stones and construction history of various mediaeval churches in and around South Yorkshire, many of these would be included in a shortlist of places for tourists who appreciate the stone built architectural heritage of England to see - in addition to Conisbrough Castle, Brodsworth Hall, Roche Abbey and the City of Lincoln.

A general view of the east front of Wentworth Woodhouse

Another place on this list would be Wentworth, a tied village that has grown up around Wenthouse Woodhouse, whose east front – at 608 feet – is the longest of any country house in England and hides an earlier Georgian building, built mainly of brick, which incorporates fragments of the original late 16th century house.

The Stable Block

The history of the various families connected to this house and the growth of the village is best described elsewhere, but this house, its stables and magnificent parkland – which are dotted with follies – all provide interest to the geologist and architectural historian. Although I haven't yet seen its interior, you get an appreciation of this very special place just by looking at the east front of Wenthouse Woodhouse in one direction and then turning around to take in the view across the park towards the Rockingham Mausoleum.

A view of the Rockingham Mausoleum

The house and most of the surrounding estate are set on rocks of the Pennine Middle Coal Measures Formation, with three sandstones – the Barnsley Rock, Kent's Rock and the Abdy Rock – forming escarpments, with the latter forming the second highest point in the borough of Rotherham and upon which Hoober Stand is set. None of these have developed any reputation as a source of good quality building stone but I know of two quarries within the immediate estate, with others marked on an old map and, to satisfy the demand for walling stone and the vernacular and agricultural buildings, these would have all been exploited.

A map of the geology around the Wentworth Estate in Rotherham

I've never got near enough to examine the stone used in Wentworth Woodhouse and the only connection to a possible source of its building stone I have made is when researching the old Hooton Roberts Quarry, when an uncited source referred to the supply of stone to build Wentworth House – a former name for Wentworth Woodhouse.

A terrace of cottages on Main Street

Whatever its source, as well as that used in the Stable Block, its fine ashlar provides such a contrast with the stone used in its various outbuildings and for the cottages that line either site of Main Street in the centre of the village, which has grown up to accommodate the housing needs of workers on the estate.

Cottages built out of local Carboniferous sandstone in Paradise Square

Built entirely in sandstone, with rusty orange markings adding brightness to its generally buff tones – and with the occasional fiery red variety as seen in one of the outbuildings of the Rockingham Arms and elsewhere on Main Street - the roofs are generally made of traditional flagstones in the older houses, with Welsh grey slate used for the later buildings.

A detail of an ironstone nodule at the Rockingham Arms

The whole estate is conserved to the highest standards and, if it were not for the steady stream of cars passing through the village, you wouldn't notice the extremely popular Wentworth Garden Centre that occupies the former kitchen gardens and at which a small fee can be paid to explore the Bear Pit and other parts of the historic estate here.

Dolomitic limestone used at the Bear Pit and for statues of Roman soldiers

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