Must-sees at Wentworth Castle Gardens

Explore centuries of history in this spectacular South Yorkshire landscape. With formal gardens, inspiring monuments and a folly that isn’t quite what it seems, don’t miss these intriguing features across the gardens at Wentworth.

The Stainborough Castle folly at Wentworth Castle Gardens

Stainborough Castle

This almost ancient castle is the crowning glory of a visit to Wentworth Castle Gardens. Although it looks medieval, this folly was actually completed in 1731 by Thomas Wentworth. Born out of a fierce family rivalry, the folly was designed to give the impression that the Wentworth family had lived here for centuries. Today it’s a peaceful place to enjoy a picnic, surrounded by medieval(ish) turrets.

The Union Jack Garden at Wentworth Castle Gardens, Yorkshire

The Union Jack garden

Thomas Wentworth created the landscape at Wentworth to showcase his wealth and status, and the Union Jack Garden is no different. This 18th century wilderness garden was planted in 1713, with its distinctive criss-cross pattern, to mark the union of England and Scotland in 1707. It was largely replanted in 2005. This political statement from a man keen to impress remains a fascinating place to explore.

Visitors walking towards the Victorian conservatory at Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire

The Victorian Conservatory

As the next generations of the Wentworth family took over the estate, they sought to modernise Wentworth Castle Gardens. The Victorian era saw the Vernon-Wentworths move in, creating an impressive conservatory to grow unusual and exotic plants. This modern horticultural marvel was among the first places in the country to have electric lighting – even before Buckingham Palace.

The Sun Monument at Wentworth Castle Gardens, Yorkshire

Monument to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Framed by an avenue of trees, this monument has a powerful story to tell. William Wentworth (Thomas’s son) dedicated it to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1750, in honour of Lady Mary's efforts to inoculate children against smallpox. A symbol of Mary’s achievements, it is believed to be the oldest monument in the country dedicated to a living, non-royal woman.

A woman and child explore Lady Lucy's Walk, an avenue of lime trees

Lady Lucy's Walk

Wentworth Castle Gardens is an oasis of calm, just a stone’s throw from Barnsley. And there’s nowhere more peaceful here than Lady Lucy’s Walk, an avenue of towering lime trees. Believed to have been named after one of Thomas Wentworth’s daughters, this line of trees stretching through the garden was planted around the time of the First World War.

Visitors walking around the mansion house at Wentworth Castle

Wentworth Castle

The grand house at the centre of this estate is not regularly open to the public, but it’s an integral part of the Wentworth story. Previously known as Stainborough Hall, the original Stuart house was built in the 1670s. This great house has undergone a number or major changes since then, with a Baroque wing added from around 1709, a Palladian-style wing added in the 1760s, and finally a Victorian wing added in the 1890s. Today the house is home to Northern College, a pioneering adult education institution.

The view across the parkland Wentworth Castle Gardens, Yorkshire

A view of Yorkshire’s industrial past

As you look out over the parkland in the Wentworth Castle Gardens estate, you’re looking at centuries of industrial history. This is a landscape shaped by coal mining, and a garden built by the Wentworth family from the profits of Yorkshire coal. You can see the impact of mining on the landscape here, including Ivas Wood, the parkland woods replanted in the 20th century to ‘regreen’ the area after mining had taken its toll on the land.