A grand venue steeped in history.
History of Wortley Hall
South Yorkshire’s Wortley Hall has a rich history – originally the ancestral home of the Earls of Wharncliffe the Lords of the Manor of Wortley. Wortley’s earliest recording in history being Alnus de Wortley, mentioned in the pipe Rolls for 1165. Sir Thomas Wortley, born in 1440 lived in the Manor Wortley, believed to be Wortley Hall. His grandson Sir Richard Wortley rebuilt Wortley Hall in 1586. During the English Civil war Sir Francis Wortley commanded a loyalist garrison at nearby Tankersley, and led the battle of Tankersley moor where he was captured by the Roundheads and taken to the Tower of London. Wortley Hall fell into decay until the mid-18th century. When Edward Wortley commissioned the rebuilding of the hall in 1800, James Archibald Stuart Wortley and his wife Caroline Creighton took up residence. The planning, landscaping, ornamental planting and the ultimate beauty of the current grounds are attributed to Lady Caroline. Further repairs and extensions to the Hall were made mainly during the Victorian period. During the 1939-45 war, parts of the Hall were occupied by the Army and after 1945 the Hall once again began to fall into a state of disrepair.
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In 1950 The Wharncliffe family decided to give up the hall and it was available to lease.
Vin Williams, addressed other local labour movement activists outlining a proposal that Wortley Hall could have the potential of being owned by the workers and run for the workers benefit. On 5th May 1951 Wortley Hall was formally opened as an educational and holiday centre, for the trade union, labour and co-operative movement. It was in a semi-derelict condition and the workers of South Yorkshire and surrounding areas carried out most of the repairs and restoration voluntarily and managed to restore the original features including the painted ceilings, ornamental friezes and wood carvings.
Today Wortley Hall is now a company in its own right and is still a member of the
co-operative union. Any operating surplus is spent on the maintenance and upkeep of the hall. This is a grand venue steeped in history and its heritage and values are still strong aspects of its identity.
Friends of Wortley Hall Gardens
Considerable neglect of the gardens took place in the period from the First World War to the 1950s. Today, the Hall has 2 full time gardeners but relies on the support of volunteers to maintain and restore the gardens. The Friends of Wortley Hall Gardens group was set up for people interested in gardening that would like to donate their time to restoring and maintaining these historic gardens.
To find out more about their events etc please see the programme in the attached link.Friends of Wortley Hall Newsletter Autumn / Winter 2017
Grounds & Garden
Wortley Hall is set in 26 acres of gardens and woodlands. 11 acres of this are the formal gardens which face eastward enjoying magnificent views through the vale of Worsborough and beyond.The present ornamental gardens at Wortley date back to the early 1800s when the estate was in the hands of James Stuart Wortley and his wife Lady Caroline who is credited to be the driving force behind how they look today. The gardens are laid out in the Italianate Palladian style and features are the central fountain and sunken garden. The Walled Garden was constructed in 1797 and was the main kitchen garden for the house and provides fruit and vegetables even today. The gardens are open to the public free of charge and guided tours of the grounds can be arranged for a small fee with the head gardener.
Spectacular blast of colour
Features of the gardens include the Italianate terracing on the south face of the hall fronted by grassed lawn areas. These are the setting for magnificent displays of Summer bedding in the urns and around the fountain, which brings a spectacular blast of colour during the Summer months. The 11 acres of pleasure grounds really are a sight to visit; with plantings from the 17th and 18th Century, including a hollow Sessile Oak 24 feet in girth and some 500 years old.
The Walled Garden
In the last couple of years the old Walled Kitchen Garden has been given a new lease of life by Heeley City Farm, it is now growing organic fruit and vegetables which are sold in local farmers markets and used in the Hall’s kitchens. Some of the old varieties of fruit trees still remain including a cordon of pear trees, a variety of which (‘Soldat Labourer’) is one of only two examples remaining in the UK. To find out more about their efforts please visit their website.www.organickitchengarden.co.uk