Historic Camellia House to be transformed

by | 9 July 2022 | Heritage, Rotherham

Thanks to an award of over £4million by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, a rare Georgian Camellia House, home to some of the Western World’s oldest camellias, will be rescued and transformed into a celebration of the globe’s most popular drink… tea.

The award heralds a major step for the charitable trust that rescued the Grade I listed architectural jewel Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham from decline in 2017.

Five years ago, Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust purchased the once-magnificent home of the Marquesses of Rockingham and the Earls Fitzwilliam.

Saving and repurposing the Grade II*listed Camellia House in the grounds is the Trust’s first regeneration project now £9.7m of vital repairs have been completed to other historic buildings on the site.

On the Heritage at Risk Register and recently propped to prevent it tumbling down, in the 1800s the Camellia House was used as a tea house by Lady Rockingham, wife of the 2nd Marquess, to entertain guests with the most fashionable new drink of the day. The glass-fronted structure will return to its past splendour – and its early roots.

The year-long transformation begins in early summer 2022. Up to 22 new local hospitality jobs of varying hours will be created when the tea house opens in summer 2023.

Historic camellias, some surviving from the early 1800s, will have pride of place, and a tea menu will embrace tea-drinking ceremonies and cultures from across the globe.

The Camellia House will also serve as an evening events space and a hub for a host of tea-inspired events.
One day a week it will be a community cafe for local community groups to meet and explore local tea traditions. A vibrant range of art workshops, natural play, sensory and wellbeing experiences, exhibitions and events, many focussing on tea themes, will be staged there.

Sarah McLeod, CEO, Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust,(WWPT) said: “We are very grateful to National Lottery players via the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this significant grant award. We can now take a huge step forward in delivering our aspirations – regenerating Wentworth Woodhouse so it can benefit all people living in South Yorkshire and be an even greater source of local pride.

“Renovating the Camellia House is the first phase in our wider masterplan project to begin Wentworth Woodhouse’s new life, turning ‘Yorkshire’s Hidden Gem’ into a jewel in the crown of not only Yorkshire’s heritage, but the UK’s.

“The Camellia House’s global tea theme was chosen because of the building’s past, but also because tea is universal. The world’s most popular drink will help us to connect with a diverse range of audiences by placing different tea cultures in the spotlight.”

The full cost of the Camellia House project is £5m. Additional funding is already pledged and includes £250,000 from Historic England and £364,622 from The Hamish Ogston Foundation, via Historic England.

WWPT’s own funds and grant applications will contribute £136,536, the Garfield Weston Foundation has donated £118,257, the Ian Addison Charitable Trust £7,500, in-kind donations total £19,270 and volunteer time £33,400.