Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Wentworth Follies

A view of Hoober Stand

In addition to the fine examples of Georgian architecture seen at Wentworth Woodhouse, the Stable Block and various houses in the village of Wentworth, the Wentworth Estate is also well known for its follies and monuments, which are scattered around its parkland.

A detail of Hoober Stand
Of those that I have visited, it is the views from Hoober Stand - a pyramidal tower built in 1747-8 - that have impressed me most and, although I only took a very quick look at the exterior of the structure, the Carboniferous sandstone used here weathers to a very distinctive texture, with the cross-bedding structures being differentially eroded.

Weathering of Carboniferous sandstone at the base of Hoober Stand

It's location on the second highest point in the borough of Rotherham - although only 157 metres above sea level - has fully exposed it to the industrial pollutants from Sheffield and Rotherham and the gritty buff coloured Carboniferous sandstone, used to replace whole blocks, stands out from the blackened original masonry.

A general view of the Rockingham Mausoleum

I visited the Rockingham Mausoleum very briefly a few years ago, on a very gloomy day, and I didn't see it in its best light, but I was interested to see that the fine quality ashlar – which is a different sandstone to that used for Hoober Stand – was extremely black and that various samples of stone cleaning had been carried out and also that drill cores had been taken.

Cleaning samples and drill cores at the Rockingham Mausoleum

According to a conversation that I previously had with the Estate Manager, linseed oil had once been applied as a stone preservative and has proved extremely difficult to remove ever since, although I have not further investigated the cleaning techniques that were tried.

The Needle's Eye
The Needle's Eye has been cleaned since I visited it seven years ago and photos show that the stonework is now very bright, and I am assuming that the blackening of the stonework was not exacerbated by a similar application of linseed oil. At the time, I was more interested in the condition of the sandstone used to line the interior of the arch, which had been scoured away due to the tunnelling effect of wind passing through the arch over the years and which had selectively eroded the softer, fine grained beds to leave a texture similar to that seen at Hoober Stand.

Weathering of Carboniferous sandstone at the Needle's Eye

The Doric Lodge is one of the lodge houses that are scattered around the estate and, although I have driven past it many times and briefly noted its fine ashlar masonry and its pediment and fluted columns, I spent only a couple of minutes there to take a few record photos as, being occupied, I didn't want to invade the resident's privacy.

The Doric Lodge

Keppel's Column is the only one of the Wentworth Follies that is not owned by the Wentworth Estate and, at 35 metres high, is the tallest; however, although designed with an entasis, the column was not extended to its original height for reason of its cost; however, without the necessary weight of stone above to hold this part of the column in place – the outer skin of masonry has become detached and a stainless steel girdle has surrounded it for many years.

Keppel's Column

The Rotherham District Civic Society, among many others, have long since bemoaned the lack of interest that Rotherham MBC appear to have in this fantastic monument, where the views from its top must be incredible, and although there are structural problems and a project like this is not cheap, it is not beyond repair and there is a consensus of opinion that – in any other place – its tourist potential would have been recognised and it would have been restored years ago.

Architectural drawings of Keppel's Column

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