Preservation project running on ‘faith’ after mansion closes to public

An organisation leading the restoration of a vast mansion has said “faith” is all they have left after its doors closed to the public amid a £130 million programme to save the building.

Specialist contractors are currently replacing the six-tennis-court-sized roof of Wentworth Woodhouse, in South Yorkshire, in a project costing £30,000 each month.

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust said the roof repairs would continue under government guidelines in order to “keep the building safe” and keep the project on schedule for as long as possible.

The Trust bought the house in 2017 for £7 million and has been overseeing the project to regenerate the building.

The mansion stopped tours and events and closed its doors to visitors on March 20 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trust said its 52 staff have been paid until the end of March and its 212 volunteers, who gave more than 22,333 hours of unpaid support in 2019, have been stood down.

A spokeswoman said: “Mea Gloria Fides – Faith Is My Glory, says the Latin script over the east front of Rotherham stately home Wentworth Woodhouse.

“Faith is now all the preservation trust regenerating this Grade-I listed architectural masterpiece has left to run on.”

The spokeswoman said heritage construction workers are continuing to carry out “vital tasks” to keep the project on schedule and avoid the expenses associated with stopping the work.

Dame Julie Kenny, founder and chair of the Trust, said: “Wentworth Woodhouse will reopen in style as soon as the Covid-19 crisis is over and we want everyone back in force – all our staff, volunteers and loyal supporters.

“In the meantime, a very carefully managed roof-work programme is keeping the building safe.”

Representatives from contractors Woodhead said roof workers are following government guidelines “to the letter” and hoped to continue for “as long as government guidelines allow”.

Sarah McLeod, CEO of the Trust, said: “Keeping people safe is our absolute priority now.”

The building, which has a 606ft frontage wider than Buckingham Palace, was once Britain’s biggest private home but slid into neglect and disrepair during the second half of the 20th century.

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