Business from Bedlam? Stately home plans office lets

Bruce Allan, of property agents Carter Jonas, with Wentworth Woodhouse CEO Sarah McLeod outside the mansion’s Bedlam rooms

“Bedlam”, a suite of rooms once reserved for Georgian bachelors at Rotherham stately home Wentworth Woodhouse, could be converted into business property lets.

Plans are now in place to transform Bedlam into rental spaces, attractive to both national PLCs and local companies.

Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, which took over the Grade I listed mansion in 2017, aims to revive this part of the property which was previously in a derelict state.

The 23 rooms are situated on three floors of the south-east wing on the east front of the stately home.

The trust says it hopes to see a range of businesses sharing its address – from national companies looking for a prestigious setting for their HQ, to specialists in heritage construction and the digital and creative industries.

Sarah McLeod, CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, (WWPT) said: “Our priority is to use the spaces we have at Wentworth Woodhouse to generate healthy income for our ongoing restoration tasks and to boost the local economy.

“When we launched our master plan in 2018, Bedlam was designated for commercial office lets. It is in a prime position, right alongside the state rooms on our famed East Front and this stunning and impressive location has easy access to the M1, M18 and A1 motorways.

Bedlam was originally the nickname of the Bethlem Hospital asylum in London.

WWPT historian, David Allott, said: “The fact that the name was adopted at Wentworth Woodhouse gives an insight into the high jinks which happened in that wing.

“In Georgian and Victorian times young gentlemen of the house slept there, as did visiting bachelor guests and their male servants. The rooms would have been well-furnished, comfortable –  and a safe distance from those occupied by single women.”

The men-only domain switched to women-only when the rooms became the dormitories of the Lady Mabel College of Physical Education from 1950 to 1977.

Permission for change of use from residential to commercial would need to be granted by Rotherham Borough Council and extensive repairs and refurbishment are still needed.

Feasibility studies have started, thanks to £10,585 of funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund and £12,500 from the Pilgrim Trust. The lengthy study will test the current market for office lets and examine refurbishment costs.

Consultants from the Leeds office of UK-wide surveyors/property agents Carter Jonas have been appointed to carry out a market appraisal.

Bruce Allan MRICS, head of commercial valuations in Yorkshire, said: “We are happy to be instructed to provide appraisals on the viability of this project.  We have a previous relationship with this magnificent house, and we hope the re-purposing of elements will assist in securing its financial future.”