Wentworth Woodhouse Power House - October 09, 2005 8:15 PM



Richard Beighton tells us that his grandfather, Henry Parrett, was the estate electrical engineer from c.1910 to 1955 at Wentworth Woodhouse the seat of Earl Fitzwilliam near Rotherham in Yorkshire.  


It is believed that Henry moved to Yorkshire at the end of the First World War to take up his position as estate electrical engineer at Wentworth Woodhouse when the Big House (365 rooms 1000 windows) removed it's wartime dustsheets.


He was responsible for running the power house supplying electricity to the house and later to the village of Wentworth. The Power House stands today housing a micro brewery


Richard remembers as a very small boy, his grandfather showing him round the generating hall when it was generating electricity. Little remains today apart from the hall - now the brew house, the battery room, which is empty and the cut off end of the underground cable leading to the Big House.  The situation sounds all too familiar to us at Herstmonceux.


The picture below showing Bulk Storage Containers shows well, the scale of the building, with the generating hall on the left and the boiler house to the right. The battery room is to the far left.


Garry Sheriff is the brewer at Wentworth House, who along with Richard, is keen to find out more about the generating rooms and machinery.


If you are reading this article and think you can help us the piece together this archaeological puzzle, we would like to hear from you.






The East Front of Wentworth Woodhouse, visible from the public right of way through Wentworth Park, is a magnificent structure over 600 feet in length, famous as the longest frontage of any country house in England. Unfortunately this is all the public can see of the house as it is now privately owned, however for those walking past who want to know a bit more about the history of the place we present a brief history of the building and its owners through the years.




Wentworth House



The Exterior


What we think of as Wentworth Woodhouse is actually two houses, both largely rebuilt in the 18th century. The East Front which we see from the Park entirely obscures the second house which faces West towards the village. The Western house is the older of the two, started in around 1725 to replace an even older structure. The West Front (or "Back Front" as it is sometimes known) is less formal than the grand East Front and is built largely in brick with Baroque stone facings.


An old photo of the rarely-seen "back front" of Wentworth Woodhouse

Thomas Watson-Wentworth (later Earl of Malton and Marquis of Rockingham) who built most of the house we see today, evidently became dissatisified with the West Front whilst it was being built, for he commissioned Henry Flitcroft to start work on the East Front in around 1734, even before the other side of the house was finished.


It is thought that the decision to build the much larger East Front stemmed partly from a family feud with the Stainborough branch of the Wentworth family. They were at the time extending Wentworth Castle (which you can see to the West of the M1 just past Barnsley) and the Wentworth branch of the family did not to be outdone!


The only major change to exterior of the house since it was originally put up was the addition of an extra storey to each of the wings of the East Front in around 1782. Evidently the Fitzwilliam family of the time needed more bedroom space (150 just wasn't enough!). Also around this time the Fitzwilliams engaged the landscape architect Humphrey Repton to create the parkland we still see to the East of the house; apparently one of Repton's main changes was to remove a hill which had stood in front of the house because this obscured the view. I'd like to see the "Ground Force" team attempt that one!



The Interior


The house is not open to the public and so the interior is rarely seen, however as this is a Grade I listed building we assume that it has not altered significantly since 1959 when it was described in great detail by the eminent architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (see "The Buildings of England - Yorkshire, West Riding").

The main entrance to the house is via the Pillared Hall, accessed from the East Front. This gives access to some of the ground floor rooms and, via a grand staircase, to the Marble Saloon, a 60 foot square room some 40 feet high which is the main reception room in the house.


South of here are two grand rooms named after the paintings that once hung in them: the Van Dyke room and the Whistlejacket room. Whistlejacket was the 2nd Marquis's favourite racehorse and George Stubbs was commissioned to paint a huge portrait of the horse in 1759 (it can now be seen in the National Gallery in London); for those who can't get see the picture you can look at Whistlejacket's grave which is just off the path past the house near the stable block (see below).

To the north of the Marble Saloon lies another huge room, the Long Gallery. This is some 130 feet long and again once contained a huge collection of paintings and other artworks.



Stable Block


The stable block was built in 1768 by John Carr on a scale to match the house. This can easily be viewed from the public path through the park and, as you will see, the horses probably had a better standard of accomodation than most of the residents in the village at the time!


Pevsner tells us that the stables comprise 15 bays with a rusticated entrance with Tuscan columns, pediment and cupola. There is a large (no longer operational) fountain in the centre of the courtyard which can be glanced through the gates. Much of the Stable Block was used as a gymnasium when the house was used for educational purposes but now this huge building seems to be entirely unused (along with all the other more modern college buildings dotted around the park).



Lady Mabel College


From 1949 to 1974 the house was home to The Lady Mabel College of Physical Eudcation. Named after Lady Mabel Smith (sister of the 7th Earl Fitzwilliam) the College trained female physical education teachers. The college later merged with Sheffield City Polytechnic.


Former Lady Mabel students may be interested in the Lady Mabel former students site. We hope to feature more information on the college in the near future.








Wentworth Brewery



A Tour Round Wentworth Brewery

Wentworth Brewery's Fermentation Units


Our guest photographer Mr. Derick Toy was recently invited on a tour of Wentworth Brewery by the brewery's owner and managing director Mr. John Moorhouse. We reproduce here some of Derick's pictures which give an idea of some of the processes involved in producing the award-winning Wentworth beers. 





Wentworth Brewery, viewed here from the nearby farm shop, is based in the old Wentworth Woodhouse power house which formerly housed the generators for the house. The brewery, which has a staff of 5, produces around 30 Barrels (or 2,800 pints!) of beer per week.


The brewery has a regular production of 8 different types of beer, including the best selling Wentworth Pale Ale.


The company's beers have won 16 Gold Medal Awards for Best Beer at CAMRA Beer Festivals in Leeds, Barnsley, Sheffield and Rotherham during the past 3 years. The company also produces bottled versions of its beers, some of which are exported to the USA.


Visit http://www.wentworthbrewery.co.uk/ for the brewery's own web site.







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The history of Wentworth village is inextricably linked with the history of the great aristocratic families - the Wentworths, Watsons and Fitzwilliams - who presided over it for generations. Only recently, following the end of the Fiztwilliam family line in 1979, has the village started to lead a more independent existence.




Thomas Wentworth





The village itself dates back to at least 1066, when lands in the area were given to Adam de Newmarch and William le Flemming, later passing to the Canons of Bolton Abbey. It is not known how the Wentworth family came into the lands, but around 1300 they united by marriage with the Woodhouse family who lived outside the village on the site of what is now Wentworth Woodhouse. The Woodhouse lands were originally part of the manor of "frerehouse" which also included the sites of the modern Friars House, Friars Cottages and Boltons Yard. The combined Wentworth family went on to dominate the area for centuries, slowly acquiring more land, money and influence.


The first Wentworth family member to achieve national fame was Thomas Wentworth (b. 1593), 1st Earl of Strafford (pictured). He entered parliament and progressed rapidly through the ranks, becoming Lord President of the Council of the North and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and no doubt acquiring a lot more land and money along the way. Unfortunately he must also have acquired a lot of enemies in the House of Commons because he was tried and beheaded for treason in 1641. His remains are buried under the Old Church in Wentworth.





The Earl's son, William (they all seem to have been called either Thomas or William!) inherited his father's title, but died without an heir and the estate passed to the Watson (later Watson-Wentworth) family. It was the Watson-Wentworths (who later became the Marquises of Rockingham) who built many of the grandest structures in the area, including the magnificent East Front of Wentworth Woodhouse and the Hoober Stand and Keppel's Column follies. They also gave the village some of its first public buildings such as the Barrow school and the former windmill on Clayfields Lane. The 2nd Marquis of Rockingham even found time between the building work to become Prime Minister on two occassions. Unfortunately he didn't find time to produce an heir and so the estate changed hands yet again.





The Earl Fitzwilliams (or Wentworth-Fitzwilliams) took over in 1782 and were responsible for much of the early industrial development in the area, establishing numerous mines and factories in the surrounding towns and villages (not too close to their house of course!). This made the family even richer, and by the mid-nineteenth century they were reckoned to be the 6th wealthiest landowners in the country. They didn't lose touch with the village though and gave money to establish the Mechanics Institute and the girls school (now Wentworth C of E school) for the benefit of their tenants. They also built cottages for their workers in Wentworth and Elsecar, most of which exist to this day.


The 6th Earl gave us the magnificent Holy Trinity Church (the "new" church), the 7th Earl started a factory in Sheffield which produced one of the first motor cars (the Simplex), the 8th Earl sadly died in a plane crash along with Kathleen Kennedy, sister of J. F. Kennedy, who he was seeing at the time. And so it goes on...



Present Day


The Fitwilliam reign continued until the death of the 10th Earl in 1979, again tragically without issue. Since the death of the last Earl much of the property in the village has been managed by a trust which does an excellent job of preserving the character of the village and continues to make charitable donations for the benefit of residents. Wentworth Woodhouse is now under separate private ownership, and little is known about future plans for the building. The rest of the estate, which still has significant land holdings in the area, lives on under the stewardship of Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland.



More History


The above are just edited highlights of the history of the village and estate. For more comprehensive and scholarly coverage you may wish to read Graham Hobson's (far from brief) 4 volume "Wentworth - A Brief History", or Roy Young's excellent "The Big House and The Little Village", which you may be able to obtain from shops in the village.



History Web Links


The Rotherham Family History Society site has several articles about Wentworth including an interesting extract from the 1912 White's Guide which provides a snapshot of life in the village at the time.







Herstmonceux Electricity Generating Works Circa. 1900 - 1936   Links:



Intro  |  Instructions  |  ISBN  |  Batts  |  Boiler Room   |  Floor Plan  |  Ron Saunders


Ind Revolution  |   Lime Park  |  Machinery  |  Map  |  Power House  |  Argus 1999


Public Supply  |  Roof Cons  |  Rural SupplySussex Express 1913  | Conclusion


Archaeology South East   |   East Sx CC  |  English HeritageSIAS  |  Sx Exp 1999


Memories of Herstmonceux by Margaret Pollard




Herstmonceux Links Page








Sales of collectable working British antique telephones, dating from 1910 to the late 1950s on display and for sale at Elsecar Antiques Centre near Wentworth.


The South Yorkshire Festival of Music and Dance (AKA Wath Festival) is an annual event boasting a glittering array of renowned performers is usually held in late April or early May.


Site about the nearby village of Jump.


EPPiC Theatre are a long-established theatre group in the nearby village of Ecclesfield; this site lists details of the group's history and forthcoming productions.


I recently came across this interesting document about Wentworth Woodhouse by Derek Latham which not only gives some interesting historical information about the house but also gives some insights into "what might have been"' the last time it was sold...

John Doxey - various sites

An excellent site dedicated to the people of Thrybergh, Ravenfield and Dalton by expat John Doxey. See also http://johndoxey.Conisbrough for an article about St. Peter's Church Conisbrough - the oldest building in South Yorkshire.


A new site about Holy Trinity Church which serves Thorpe Hesley and Scholes


A comprehensive site about Treeton in Rotherham


From the people who brought you Treeton web - a site about the nearby village of Whiston


Ulley village web site now up and running


Yes you've guessed it - a Wickersley web site


The folks who run the above sites asked me to put in a plug for this Sheffield-based band!


An excellent sites with extensive coverage of the Wentworth follies


Yorkshire's award-winning online magazine


A very comprehensive site covering most of the Rotherham area, including several pages on Wentworth


Scholes Village site


Scholes Cricket Club


Links to various other Rotherham area web sites.


Rotherham Family History Society


A comprehensive site about pubs in the Rotherham area.


South-Yorks.Net - Your Local Portal


South Yorkshire Folk


Live @the Lion, Wath


Real UK Music


Site about the nearby village of Brampton Bierlow



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