Wentworth Woodhouse, the largest privately-owned house in Europe, is finally awaking from its slumber. Two houses of totally different architectural styles built by The First Marquess of Rockingham between 1725 & 1750, the west front of the house in the baroque style & the east front in the later palladian style.
After being inaccessible to most members of the general public for over 60 years this sleeping giant is finally opening up to the wide world.
Wentworth Woodhouse, standing in a park of 250 acres & situated about four miles from Rotherham, with its East Front of over 600 feet & its courts & buildings covering three acres or more of ground, is ranked as perhaps the very largest of the country palaces created by our 18th Century Whig Magnates.
It was the home of Charles 1st’s ill-fated administrator, Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford. There were Wentworths at Wentworth in the 13th Century & there they continued until 1695. Then, on the death of William 2nd Earl of Strafford, son of the 1st Earl, it passed to Thomas Watson, a son of his sister who had married Edward 2nd Baron Rockingham. He died in 1723 & was succeeded by his only son, Thomas Wentworth, who was created 1st Marquess of Rockingham in 1746 & died in 1750. He was succeeded by his fifth & youngest son, Charles, 2nd & last Marquess of Rockingham, who died in 1782 without issue.
Wentworth then passed to William 4th Earl Fitzwilliam, who was the eldest son of the Marquess’ eldest sister who had married the 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam of Milton. It remained in the hands of the Fitzwilliam family until 1989. The house and 80 acres of land were then bought by Mr Wensley Haydon-Baillie, a businessman, who was resident for 10 years. In 1999, it was bought by Mr Clifford Newbold & his family, who are in the process of restoring the house to its former glory.
The history of Wentworth Woodhouse, as well as the village of Wentworth, is inextricably linked with the history of the great aristocratic families – the Wentworths, Watsons & Fitzwilliams – who presided over it for generations.