Back in March 2012 (was it really so long ago?) I attended a talk organised by the Leeds Library and given by Patrick Eyres celebrating 30 years of The New Arcadian Journal. I wrote about it here.
The substitute for the 2012 edition of the Journal is the publication of the proceedings of a 2010 conference : “Wentworth Castle and Georgian Political Gardening : Jacobites, Tories and Dissident Whigs“. It’s edited by Patrick Eyres and I recently borrowed it from the Library and read it with great interest.
Wentworth Castle Front
The next step, obviously, was to visit the Castle itself. Or rather, the gardens surrounding the Castle. The Castle itself is a private College and not generally open to the public. I decided to visit the gardens on Tuesday this week on my way to visit my son in Sheffield. What a lovely place it is. The weather was also kind, so it was a real pleasure to spend a couple of hours exploring the gardens and features of Wentworth Castle Gardens not far from Junction 37 of the M1 motorway.
The View from Wentworth Castle
Garden Volunteers taking a tea-break
I got the impression that over the last few years there’s been a lot of work going on in order to recreate the gardens and restore the many garden features.
The latest exciting project is the Wentworth Castle Victorian Glasshouse Restoration Project.
“Made famous by the BBC’s Restoration programme in 2003, this beautiful iron glasshouse was in danger of being lost forever until it became the main focus of our restoration plans. In 2011, the Trust finally succeeded in raising the £3.74million needed to rescue the delicate structure and was able to work up the final plans for the restoration project.”
It is expected that it will be open late summer 2013. Read more about the work being undertaken here.
The Glasshouse is just behind the main castle building and the gardens rise behind them on a gentle slope. There are formal gardens and woodland, a lovely cedar walk, a garish azalea garden, a stumpery and fernery, and an informal ‘wilderness’.
The Corinthian Temple
The ornate plasterwork of the Temple
Archer’s Hill Gate
The Sun Monument to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
The View from Stainborough Castle Tower
Lady Lucy’s Walk
Going back to the Wentworth Garden book I mentioned at the beginning there was one particularly interesting chapter towards the end. It wasn’t about gardens at all but about the Wentworths and Jane Austen novels. “A Big Name: Jane Austen and the Wentworths” is by Janine Barchas and in it she points out every instance of the appearance of a Wentworth-related name in Austen’s novels.
“In the long eighteenth century, the Wentworth family enjoyed pride of place among “abnormally interesting people” we now term celebrities.” Here are just some examples : Wentworth (Persuasion); Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice); Darcy (Pride and Prejudice); Woodhouse (Emma); Watson (The Watsons). Fascinating!
I love the phrase “abnormally interesting people” – please can I be one? The gardens look well worth a visit – I have friends who have been, but I’ve not seen good photos before.
I am sure you are one, Nilly! I think you should make the trip to the gardens – probably best on a weekday if you can manage it.
[…] June 2013 I wrote about my visit to Wentworth Castle Gardens mentioning that I hoped to return to inspect the […]