Wentworth Woodhouse

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Wentworth Woodhouse is a Grade I listed country house near the village of Wentworth, in the vicinity of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. "One of the great Whig political palaces",[1] its East Front, 606 ft (185 m) long, is the longest country house façade in Europe.[2] The house includes 365 rooms and covers an area of over 2.5 acres (10,000 m²). It is surrounded by a 150 acre (0.6 km²) park and a nearly 90,000-acre (360 km2) estate (now separately owned). Built by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham (1693–1750), and added to by his heir, in the nineteenth century it became the inherited family seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam.[3]

Contents

Architecture

Wentworth Woodhouse is virtually two houses, the rarely-seen or photographed West Front, the garden range facing towards the village, which was the first built, of brick with stone details, and the immense East Front (illustrations, right). The huge length of the East Front is credibly represented[4] as the result of a resentful rivalry with the Stainborough branch of the Wentworth family, who inherited Strafford's minor title, Lord Raby, but not his estates, which came to Watson,[5] who added Wentworth to his surname. The Wentworths, for whom the earldom was revived, lived, not by accident, at the nearby Wentworth Castle, which was purchased in 1708, in a competitive spirit, and strenuously rebuilt in a magnificent manner.

The Baroque, brick-built, western range of Wentworth Woodhouse was begun by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, after 1728 Lord Malton[6] after he inherited it from his father in 1723. It replaced the Jacobean structure that was once the home of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, whom Charles I sacrificed in 1641 to appease Parliament. The builder to whom Wentworth's grandson turned for a plan for the grand scheme that he intended,[7] was a local builder and country architect, Ralph Tunnicliffe,[8] who had a practice in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. The model they settled on was Colen Campbell's Wanstead House, illustrated in Vitruvius Britannicus i, 1715. Tunicliffe was pleased enough with this culmination of his provincial practice to issue an engraving signed "R. Tunniclif, architectus"[9] which must date before 1734, as it is dedicated to Baron Malton, Watson-Wentworth's earlier title.[10]

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