Our Partnership

A visitor writing her memories on a chalkboard

We work in partnership with Barnsley Council and Northern College to manage Wentworth Castle Gardens. The aim of the partnership is to put people at the heart of everything we do, with opportunities for all visitors and volunteers to get involved and help shape the gardens.

We work with Barnsley Council and Northern College to run projects which welcome new audiences to Wentworth Castle Gardens and support volunteering and participation. 

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 develop their skills and look after their health & wellbeing.

In the first year of opening, The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF)  helped us set up this working partnership and develop a range of collaborative projects.


Our Programme

Bespoke art activities for families during lockdown, as part of the Artists in Residence project
A range of art activities for families during lockdown as part of the Artists in Residence project at Wentworth Castle Gardens
Bespoke art activities for families during lockdown, as part of the Artists in Residence project

Artists in Residence 

The evolution of Wentworth Castle Gardens is being explored in 2020-21 through an exciting Artists in Residence project. Local artists have been working collaboratively with community groups to create an art installation which reflects the stories of this special place.

The life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu has inspired the artists in their work. Her achievements pioneering innoculation against smallpox are recognised through the Sun Monument, one of our garden highlights, which is dedicated to her. There are interesting parallels between elements of Lady Mary's story and the current global emergency which resonate deeply for the artists. 

Earlier in the year, the families of Silkstone Primary School enjoyed bespoke arts activities and packs as part of their home-schooled curriculum. To inspire their drawings and sculptures, the families enjoyed a free visit to WCG. This community engagement work has fed into the artists' final piece. 

The art installation ('Colour Forms - straws upon the water') opens in March 2021 and will involve colourful and playful interventions throughout the Fernery for visitors to explore.

The Artists in Residence Programme is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England. It is part of the Great Place project, exploring the shared histories of Wenworth Woodhouse, Elsecar Heritage Centre and Wentworth Castle Gardens. 

Young volunteers collect leaves on Lady Lucy's Walk
Young volunteers collect leaves on Lady Lucy's Walk
Young volunteers collect leaves on Lady Lucy's Walk


Since opening, we have recruited 80 volunteers, bringing our total number of volunteers to 150. We were fortunate to be able to keep 70 volunteers who had worked in the gardens for the previous Trust, and while it was closed between 2017 and 2019. From June 2019 to February 2020, volunteers gave nearly 900 hours of their time to working with us.

Many of our volunteers work in the gardens and parkland, but we have also introduced a number of new roles so that volunteers bring their skills to every area of the site. This year, volunteers will have the opportunity to train as mentors to support new volunteers and participants on some of our community projects.

Learning at Wentworth Castle Gardens

In partnership with Barnsley Museums Learning Team, the first two Creative Writing workshops for schools were delivered at Wentworth Castle Gardens in October 2019. KS2 pupils explored the landscape and were inspired to create their own poetry using a range of literary techniques. Back in the classroom, the children used these ideas to develop their creative writing portfolios.

We are really pleased that our Creative Writing workshop is running again from September 2020, with an additional focus on wellbeing.


The Victorian flower garden and Union Jack garden
An aerial view of the Victorian flower garden and Union Jack garden at Wentworth Castle Gardens
The Victorian flower garden and Union Jack garden


Re-designing the Union Jack Gardens 

In the 18th century, Thomas Wentworth set out to display his political allegiances through the design of the Union Jack Garden. Over the next two years, the garden segments will be re-designed by community groups from around Barnsley in a way that represents their core values and identity. 

This project is on hold, but we are hoping to start working with community groups on site in Spring 2021.


Forest Families

Forest Families is a brand-new course run at Northern College, with the support of Barnsley Museum’s Family Learning programme. Groups will spend a weekend at Wentworth Castle Gardens, learning new ways of working together as a family by developing practical skills in a forest setting.