Blogging has opened my eyes to so many totally amazing places in the UK, but none more than the gorgeous places that are here on my doorstep in South Yorkshire and places that I was in danger of taking for granted. I realise now, that South Yorkshire is packed to the brim with beautiful large old country houses. None of these are owned by the National Trust or English Heritage. Some are still in private hands, whilst the others are used for hotels or colleges. Wentworth Castle (not to be confused with Wentworth Woodhouse which is actually in the village of Wentworth-although they were related.) is situated in Stainborough and clearly visible when you head south on the M1 just past the Barnsley turn off. It was built in the 1700's and was lived in up until 1948 when there was no heir to the house and so it was sold off. It is now a college, but the gardens and parkland are now run by a newly formed trust so that they can hopefully be restored to their former glory. It was the subject of a BBC programme called "Restoration" and they won a lot of money to start the project off. Despite already costed millions, the project is still in its infancy as the infrastructure of the place had to be strenghthened and rebuilt in places. Hubby and I took advantage of the free open weekend to catch up on what has been happening since we first went to take a look.
As the house is a working college, you cannot usually get to look inside, but they do have a few open days in the summer. I'll have to try and catch one as I have never been in.The gardens are not at their best at this time of year. They are truly spectacular in May/June time when the Rhodendrons and Azaleas are in flower. This Victorian garden still looked very pretty.
The views over the parkland and surrounding area's are very lush and green. The village where I was born is in the middle of this photograph, however the scenery did not look like this when I was growing up as the area was mined heavily for coal and until recently massive coal tips dotted the landscape. There are none of them left now.
At the top of the hill behind the house, one of the Earls of Strafford built a mock castle with its own half ruined keep. In summer, they hold Opera and plays on the lawn now.
The trust was unsuccesful in securing funding to restore the huge conservetory behind the house. They are still trying to raise money for this project. If they are not quick, I fear it will fall down. It looks very dilapidated.
There is a walk around the parkland itself with a number of follies, lakes and bridges to see and it has one of the best kids playgrounds that I have ever seen. It also has a fabulous tea room. I suppose they have to rely on locals coming back time and time again as Barnsley isn't currently a tourist destination.