Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust has announced plans to restore the Grade II* listed Camellia House. The redevelopment of the garden building, which sits in the grounds of the historic Wentworth Woodhouse, marks the first major project by the trust to bring a derelict building back into use.
Donald Insall Associates will assist with the plans to redevelop the building following a competitive national tendering process. The plans will return the building back to its original use – in 1738 it was an orangery with a tea room created for Lady Rockingham, wife of the 1st Marquess, to entertain her guests. The proposed use for the Camellia House is a daytime café with kitchen and toilets, and an evening events venue. These plans follow successful and wide-ranging restoration and renovation work to the main house.
The Camellia House, which dates from the 18th century, became home to the Asian flowering plant camellia when the 2nd Marquess became one of the earliest English collectors of the rare blooms being brought from China and Japan in Georgian times. Though now a shell, the building still houses some of the oldest and rarest camellias in the Western world. They will have pride of place in the new cafe and will be carefully protected during building work, which it is hoped will begin next year.
Insall will undertake the project alongside project manager DTS Solutions and quantity surveyor Rex Procter and Partners.
A National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £1.5million received in late 2019, is funding the development of plans for the Camellia House and also for three other beautiful and redundant 18th and 19th century buildings on the site. As revealed in the Trust’s 20-year Masterplan, the Riding School is earmarked as a major conference and events space, the South Range of the Stables for retail, events and cafe spaces and the Ostler’s House as overnight guest accommodation.
Match funding is being provided by Historic England, Garfield Weston Foundation, Architectural Heritage Fund, Fitzwilliam Wentworth Amenity Trust, Pilgrim Trust and Ian Addison Charitable Trust.
Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust CEO Sarah McLeod said: “Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund we now have trusted and expert consultants onboard for this crucial first stage in our plans for the Camellia House. We hope to be able to tender for the construction work by the end of this year but first, substantial fundraising will need to be done. This will include a public appeal to raise around £500,000 towards this multi-million-pound scheme.”
Dorian Proudfoot, Associate Director said: “It has been an honour and privilege to work with a highly skilled team of conservation specialists at Wentworth Woodhouse and we are looking forward to working on the Camellia House. Its redevelopment is the next stage in securing a sustainable future for the magnificent stately home.”
Ian Tomlinson, a director of Rex Procter and Partners, said: “Our professional relationship with the property and its custodians started in 2009. We are excited by the vision for the Camellia House and Stable Block range, which will bring many new visitors, and look forward to working on what we are sure will be a challenging and ultimately rewarding series of projects.”