Eagerly anticipating the return of the Conservatory

New activity room, toilets and interpretation gallery

The Spring sunshine this month has helped the building team from William Anelay Ltd make great progress on the new build visitor facilities on the Conservatory site.  We are very lucky that in addition to restoring the beautiful conservatory itself, our funding for this project has allowed us to create new visitor facilities including an activity room and additional toilet facilities for the use of visitors.

It has also provided for the restoration of the very delapadated Potting Shed into a small but perfectly formed Interpretation Gallery, in which we will provide information about the history of the Wentworth Castle estate and an introduction to the plant collections in the Gardens.  There will also be lots of fun interactive activities for children, with something to interest all the family.

The photo shows the outer shell of the new build facilities almost complete - missing its green Sedum roof, which will be planted once the weather gets a little warmer.  In the distance we can see the new footpath from the Corinthian Temple being connected to the elegant Terrace area which will complete the south side of the Conservatory restoration.

Inside the restored Potting Shed

There’s just one more piece that is needed to complete the picture - the months of painstaking restoration work on the iron framework of the Conservatory at the Shepley Engineers’ Workshop is nearing completion.  We are eagerly anticipating the return of the Conservatory, with the first metal work returning to site during the second week of March.

It will take a number of weeks to rebuild the conservatory frame, afterwhich it will be glazed using a hand drawn glass typical of the late Victorian era - but which will also have to be toughened to meet modern building standards.  To make it more difficult no two panels of glass are exactly the same size - it’s a massive challenge for our glass suppliers!

Spring will see the start of planting on the Terrace areas.  The Trust’s garden volunteers will be assisting the regular estate garden team in the task and getting ready for the exciting prospect later in the summer when we will actually plant up the Conservatory itself.

We hope the Conservatory will open to visitors in September 2013.  In the meantime, the Conservatory Restoration Fund is still open.  Donations can be made online at https://www.charitycheckout.co.uk/1092053/donate

The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, English Heritage and the Country Houses Foundation.