PLANS to bring the derelict camellia house at Wentworth Woodhouse back to its former glory are all set to blossom thanks to a new £1.5 million grant.
Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust has been allocated the seven-figure sum by National Lottery Heritage Fund to spruce up the tumble-down garden feature and get cracking on their vision to revive the former stables and riding school.
The camellia house is the first building within the grounds of the massive mansion to get special attention under the trust’s 25-year masterplan.
There are hopes of turning all the garden buildings into visitor spaces, including a cafe and wedding venue.
“The award is fantastic news,” said trust chief executive Sarah McLeod.
“It is the breakthrough that enables us to now start delivering on our masterplan.
“This money will allow us to get started on bringing new life to the redundant buildings on our 83-acre site.
“Architects can be hired to develop designs and apply for planning permission.”
The masterplan, launched last autumn at Downing Street, revealed its first major restoration project would be the redevelopment of the garden’s Grade II-listed camellia house into a daytime cafe and events venue by 2022.
Though now a shell, the building which began life as an 18th century menagerie, still houses some of the oldest and rarest camellias in the Western world.
Camellias were first brought from China and Japan in the mid-1700s.
The £1.5 million grant will also be used to gee up the trust’s ambitious £49.2million plans to transform the Grade I-listed stables and riding school.
Originally built for the second Marquess of Rockingham’s race horses in the late 1700s, they will become a large events space, with visitor facilities and a cafe.
The space could be hosting large wedding parties and corporate events for up to 600 people by 2027.
Sarah added: “Transforming these wonderful but neglected centuries-old spaces will enable us to expand what we offer visitors and the local community.
“This will bring in additional revenue, securing the future of the house.”
As the plans develop and fundraising campaigns start, public consultations will be held to give local people opportunities to get involved and suggest what activities and events they would like the spaces to host.
This will help the trust to progress its plans to apply for a full lottery grant in future.
National Lottery Heritage Fund grant applications over £250,000 are assessed in two rounds.
The Wentworth tust has initially been granted development funding of £1.5million, allowing it to progress with its plans.
Detailed proposals are then considered by fund panellists before a final decision is made on the overall bid for £3.3 million.