This magnificent building is Wentworth Woodhouse and it boasts the longest facade of any English country house. I had trouble getting a picture that would fit it all in! It is the largest privately owned house in Europe, located in South Yorkshire and a couple of weekends ago I went, along with my friend, on a couple of guided tours of it's interior.
The current house at Wentworth is Georgian, built by the Marquis of Rockingham, and was one of the most expensive houses ever built. It incorporated part of a 1630's manor house which was added to in both the early and late eighteenth century by various family members.
The house has been owned by three main families, the Wentworth's, the Marquis of Rockingham and then from 1782 until 1989 the Fitzwilliams. More about the family histories can be found on the Wentworth website. The Fitzwilliams time at Wentworth is written about in a work of fiction called Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey. I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it but I wish I had re-read it so that it had been fresh in my head.
After the Fitzwilliams the house was then bought by a businessman who had it for ten years and was then sold to the current family who are in the process of restoring the house.
The house had been closed to the public for a long time but it is now open for guided tours. We managed to find a day where we could book a combination of tours which allowed us to see all of the rooms which are now open. They only make up a small proportion of the rooms at Wentworth but more tours are in the process of being added. Our tour guide had worked on the Estate as a carpenter since he was young so the tour felt very personal, not just like a recitation of a guide book.
Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the house which is such a shame as there were some amazingly grand rooms. Behind these pillars is a two storey marble hall with a gallery running round it and a huge fireplace and stunning floor. We saw a dining room which had green hand painted wallpaper containing arsenic for the pigment. We went in a room named the Long Gallery whose sole purpose was to provide a long room in which to walk if the weather was too horrid to exercise outside. It really was impressive. Some of the rooms are still a work in progress and some do not yet have their furniture or paintings. It didn't detract from the fascination I felt catching glimpse of this lovely old house.
My friend had been on one of the tours before and she had warned me to dress warmly as there is no heating in much of the house. Our noses were freezing by the end of the tours! I figured that I needed an outfit that consisted of knitwear, layers and a lined skirt. I wanted to reflect the cold weather, in fact, that evening it snowed loads, and this is what I came up with.
Fair Isle Tam - knitted by a wonderful friend
Cardigan - Marks and Spencer
Brooch - vintage from a charity shop
Mitts - knitted by me from a 1950's pattern
Welsh Tapestry handbag - vintage, gift from my lovely friend
Alpine skirt - Lindybop
Shoes - Clarks many years ago
Apart from my nose I was pretty warm! The tam is knitted from a modern pattern but it is very similar to the ones that were common in the 1940's. I love the print on the Lindybop skirt, so perfectly wintry. It was my first purchase from Lindybop and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality, it is fully lined and has fabric covered buttons. I don't think it is available now but a lovely dress in the same print is. I was very happy that my handbag tied in as I adore it. I squealed when I saw it in the shop and my friend kindly bought it for me even though it was some way in advance of my birthday!
If you like big old houses and fancy a day out I can recommend Wentworth. If you are feeling flush you could buy it as it is currently for sale for about £8 million! Sadly, I don't think they are open to cheeky offers!