The Chancellor has used his Autumn Statement to allocate millions in public funds to renovate a stately home, describing it as a “key piece of Northern heritage”.
Philip Hammond allocated £7.6m to refit the 300-room Wentworth Woodhouse, which he said was “the inspiration for Pemberley in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice”.
The stately home was nearly bought by Hong Kong-based investment fund Lake House Group in 2015 but the deal later collapsed.
“I have deliberately avoided turning this statement into a long list of individual projects to be supported, but I am going to make one exception,“ Mr Hammond told MPs in the House of Commons.
“I will act today with just seven days to spare to save one of the UK’s most important historic houses, Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham.”
Mr Hammond criticised the Labour government of 1946 for allowing coal mining on the grounds of the property, which he described as an “extraordinary act of cultural vandalism”.
Set in the Yorkshire countryside, the largest country house in England was started by the 1st Marquess of Rockingham in the 1700s and expanded by his son. It was visited by King George V in 1912.
Coal mining began on the property in 1946 in a showdown between the socialist Labour government and the aristocracy.
Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell welcomed the cash injection.
“I just wish some of the policies pursued by Tory governments since the 1950s could be reversed so easily,” he added.
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