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Chancellor pledges £7.6m for Wentworth Woodhouse repairs

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The chancellor Philip Hammond has committed a £7.6 million grant for ‘urgent repairs’ to country house Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham in South Yorkshire

Hammond outlined the measure during Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, saying the grant would ’safeguard this key piece of northern heritage’. 

The Grade I-listed early Georgian property is believed to be Britain’s largest private house and has the longest country house façade in the UK (185m). The building’s Jacobean core dates back to the 17th century, but it was remodelled for Thomas Watson Wentworth from around 1735.

Hammond called the historic house one of the ‘most important’ in the UK, and said it had only seven days to be saved because a local effort securing ‘millions’ in funding had until November 30 to find the required balance. 

He said: ’Wentworth Woodhouse is now at critical risk of being lost to future generations.’

The announcement was welcomed by heritage group SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which formed the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust in order to raise £7 million in funds to purchase the home from the Newbold family – still resident in the property – in February 2016.

At the time of pruchase, the house needed some £42 million in repairs over the next 10 to 15 years.

SAVE executive president Marcus Binney, said the chancellor was ’absolutely correct’ in his timeline for rescuing the property, and that the group would be opening the mansions and gardens to visitors. 

Binney added: ’[The grant] will provide jobs, stimulate the local economy, and open one of England’s most important and grandest historic houses to the public on a regular basis.

’The former service wing will host a huge range of events and the stables will become home to dynamic small businesses.’

The group also said the funding was secured after a meeting with the chancellor, organised by MPs Robert Jenrick and John Healey.

The country house, which sits in 34ha grounds, is comprised of an earlier brick-built western front and an ashlar masonry east front.

The building was used for military intelligence during the Second World War and later as a student campus for Sheffield Polytechnic College – now Sheffield Hallam University – until 1988.

Others announcements made in the autumn statement by Hammond, included a £1.4 billion investment to build 40,000 new affordable homes, and a £3.15 billion fund for London to build 90,000 affordable new homes. 

Hammond described a number of other measures being rolled out in order to boost the Northern Powerhouse, including giving the go-ahead for a programme of major roads schemes and granting £556 million to local enterprise partnerships in the North. 

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