Social Trip to South Yorkshire 3rd May 2023
The trip to Yorkshire enticed 48 members and friends across the Pennines to the White Rose County. We were rewarded with a great day with excellent weather, green fields, full reservoirs and lambs. This was our first trip out without the threat of Covid-19 hanging over us, hence the increased numbers and very nearly a full coach.
Starting off at 8:30am from the library with an initial grand tour of Didsbury and then on to Parrs Wood Methodist church we were underway. Due to heavy traffic, our driver Graham, overruled his satnav and instead took us via Glossop, Tintwistle and the Woodhead Pass to our first stop for coffee at Elsecar, a historical village with an antiques centre, cafes and exhibitions standing on a branch of the Dearne and Dove canal. Elsecar was opened in 1798 and was owned by the Earls Fitzwilliam who also owned the house Wentworth Woodhouse with its own mine, iron making, a railway line with a personal station opening in 1850. There was even a school which had opened in 1836. The whole operation was intended to show off the family’s wealth especially to aristocrats and Royalty. It is a village to a bygone time based on “black diamonds” and extremely hard labour carried out by the working people, who if they did not work struggled to feed their families.
A very good carvery lunch was arranged at the Marquis Hotel in their private dining room with everyone eating well, whether carnivorous or vegetarian. Due to our numbers and popularity of the venue with their regular customers we overran our stop time at the venue. Getting out of the car park with a large coach from a pub which was built when transport was very definitely based on horsepower certainly tested the driver`s skills. Passing the arms of an original gas lamp by a “midge`s” was an interesting end to lunchtime.
It was now onto Wentworth Woodhouse a beautiful Grade 1 listed Georgian Style Mansion which has the longest facade of any mansion in Europe, including Buckingham Palace, along with its 350 rooms and 5 miles of corridors had rooms lined with artworks by Raphael and Titian. It was the home of Earl Fitzwilliam financed by the wealth from coal. There were stables for 84 horses including Whistlejacket painted by George Stubbs. A copy remains in the house with the original in the National Gallery. It was also home, not to one but two Prime Ministers of England. The visit included a full, guided tour by an excellent and knowledgeable guide. Due to several bouts of Death Duties for the 7 and 8 Earls and the absence of “legitimate issue” in the form of heirs the house started to deteriorate after its glory years when it was built in the 1700s, falling into disrepair after WW2 with a leaking roof and untold damage due to the water ingress.
It was bought for the small amount of £7 million pounds and has been a labour of love for the last 20 years and a projected expenditure of £150 million. The scaffolding costs alone are reported to be £1.1 million. The property was in private ownership and lived in by the Architect Clifford Newbold until his death in 2015. The house was taken over by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust in 2017 along with funding from many local and national charitable organisations. Hopefully returning to its former glory soon, including the tracing its lost furniture wherever possible
After refreshments in the Butler`s Pantry we boarded up for our return, again via the Woodhead Pass, arriving back in Didsbury for 6pm. A big thank you from the trustees to Gordon and Margaret for all of their hard work in organising the trip.