The Trust restoring Wentworth Woodhouse launched a fresh appeal for help at this year’s glittering Black Diamonds Ball.
Some 260 local dignitaries, Sheffield City Region businesses and loyal supporters at the sell-out event were encouraged to support the launch of the Wentworth Woodhouse Wishlist.
The Wishlist details 50 different things the stately home’s Preservation Trust urgently needs so it can work towards its restoration goals. Supporters can even help by chipping in to pay the gas and electricity bills.
This year’s black tie fundraiser, hosted by Dame Julie Kenny CBE and named after the history book which brought the house national attention, boosted funds by over £30,000.
But the scale of the restoration project means more support is urgently needed. The Wishlist includes much-needed items which cost from just a few pounds up to those at tens of thousands.
Wishlist donors can choose to buy trowels and spades for gardening volunteers and extra mops and buckets for the housekeeping teams, or fund the restoration of some of Wentworth Woodhouse’s most stunning historic features.
The most glittering item on the list is the huge, glittering crystal chandelier which has hung in the Van Dyck state room for over 150 years and is need of repairs to the tune of £6,000.
The huge urns and statues which were hauled to the mansion’s rooftops in the 1700s need to be restored – at an average cost of £8,750 a-piece.
The huge clock on top of the stables hasn’t worked for decades and will cost £70,000 to get working again, and become a symbol of the reawakening of stately home that time forgot.
Some of the most expensive things on the list are the least glamorous… The water main pipe, which runs all the way from Cortworth Lane to the mansion house, needs replacing at an estimated cost of £100,000.
And the 100-year-old central heating system, which hasn’t been serviced in decades, is in dire need of £80,000 of refurbishment.
On an equally practical note, the house staff and volunteers need a van and a minibus, £20,000 of security lighting is needed for the public car park, and 100 Georgian windows need repairing at a cost of around £1,500 each.
“The challenges we face in protecting, operating and regenerating Wentworth Woodhouse are huge,” said Sarah McLeod, CEO of WWPT.
“Our Wishlist contains 50 items we desperately need, but cannot purchase without the support of local businesses and the public. Items range in price, so there is something to suit all.
“We would even love to have help with our bills. Think about how much it runs to run your own house, add several zeros and you are close to our annual outgoings for utilities.
“We face annual bills of £28,000 for the gas central heating, £15,000 for electricity and buildings insurance costs us £50,000 a year.”
Added Sarah McLeod: “We would love to hear from anyone who can help make one of our wishes become reality.”
The Black Diamonds Ball was held in the famed Marble Saloon, where the Downton Abbey movie was recently filmed.
The star item in an after-dinner auction was a handmade black diamond ring, created by Bakewell jeweller Richard Croft, which raised £3,000.
Goldsmith Richard, of The Jewellery Studio, created the ring from platinum and a surround of white diamonds around a black diamond centre.
The winning bid came from Marcus Murphy of Midlands-based security distributorTraders Warehouse, who presented the ring to his sister Emma Miekle as a 40th birthday present.
Some of the evening’s entertainers, harpist Tilly Poskett, the Rainbow Connections Choir and soprano Charlotte Kenny donated their time for free.
To find out about making a Wentworth Woodhouse Wishlist donation, contact Shane.Spence@wentworthwoodhouse.org.uk or call 01226 351161.