Glorious gardens, woodland and parkland, created for the privileged few and preserved for everyone to enjoy.
Wentworth Castle Gardens are the only Grade-I listed gardens in South Yorkshire. They were created in the 18th century by the Earls of Strafford as a symbol of wealth and status, and as part of an intense rivalry with their cousins at Wentworth Woodhouse.
Today, 220 years on, the place the Earl and his descendants shaped has become somewhere that helps tackle a core element of social justice: the right to education for all. First as a teaching college and later Northern College, for over 70 years this former stronghold of the elite has provided life changing opportunities for some of the most marginalised members of society in Barnsley and beyond.
Wentworth Castle Gardens is now run as a unique partnership between Northern College, National Trust and Barnsley Museums. We aim to put people at the heart of everything we do, inviting our communities to shape how Wentworth Castle Gardens will continue to develop over time.
We want the stories we tell – both historic and contemporary – to be relevant to everyone, and for Wentworth Castle Gardens to be a place where people can explore; from learning new skills and discovering hidden stories, to quiet contemplation whilst immersed in nature.
Our learning programme is inspiring pride and confidence in the next generations and we’re providing meaningful opportunities for people to be involved including family, wellbeing, arts, sports and horticultural inspired activities, work placements and volunteering.
Maryam Samaam - Rope of Hope
International artist Maryam Samaan was welcomed by the Wentworth Castle Gardens partnership in an artistic residency, creating the Rope of Hope as part of the Lands of Exile Artists Programme. Samaan has collaborated with communities across Europe to weave objects onto the rope that reflect refugees’ impressions and memories during their journeys. The Barnsley Feels Like Home ESOL group contributed objects to the art installation which mark their own experiences.
Encounters: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Encounters is an artist residency celebrating extraordinary life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, scientist, public heath campaigner, proto-feminist, writer and influencer. Lorna Rees, Artistic Director of Gobbledegook Theatre was commissioned to bring together historic and contemporary stories with the people of Barnsley. Intended for families, this project was both playful and inspiring.
The Kindred Programme encouraged families with multiple and complex needs with mixed age children (11 – 18yrs), to view cultural and heritage activity as something they can positively engage in together, to raise aspirations, build skills and improve wellbeing.
Colour Forms, Artist Residency
The evolution of Wentworth Castle Gardens was explored in 2020-21 through an exciting Artists in Residence project. Local artists worked collaboratively with community groups to create an art installation which reflected the stories of this special place.
The Taking Root Exhibition
Members of Feels Like Home come from all over the world. In the Taking Root project they have worked with artists and poets at Wentworth Castle Gardens to explore their personal journeys through the national flowers of their countries of origin, flowers that have made the journey here too. Louise Lane, award winning botanical artist, created the beautiful flower illustrations whilst award winning poet, Andrew McMillan, shared writing skills with the group.
Fine Fettle: An outdoor personal development programme
The Fine Fettle programme supports adults with lived experience of mental health to develop outdoor volunteering and personal skills. Participants will meet new people, develop new interests, or rediscover previous joys in life, as well as being offered the support to progress onto new opportunities that interest them. To discover more please click here.
Walk with Amal at Wentworth Castle Gardens
At the heart of The Walk is ‘Little Amal’, a 3.5 metre-tall puppet of a young refugee girl. Representing all displaced children, many separated from their families, Little Amal is travelling over 8,000km embodying the urgent message “Don’t forget about us”.
It’s a huge honour that Barnsley has been chosen to take part in this project alongside cities such as Paris, London and Rome. Together they are unified in showing the world that they are safe and welcoming places for refugees to live and will be helped, supported, and cared for in their journey to making these locations their home.