Designed Estate

The designed estate landscape character type covers a small area in the south of the DVLP Area. It is strongly associated with the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate and includes land at Rainborough Park, King’s Wood, Wentworth village and Elsecar.

Location and Context

The designed estate landscape character type (LCT) covers a small area in the south of the DVLP Area. It is strongly associated with the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate and includes land at Rainborough Park, King’s Wood, Wentworth village and Elsecar.

Key Characteristics

  • Gently undulating but relatively high landform underlain by sandstone and shale (coal measures) geology.
  • Small meandering streams and the top part of the Elsecar branch of the Dearne and Dove Canal, which follows a natural valley. Open water includes small estate ponds, the Elsecar Canal reservoir and Canal Basin.
  • Extensive tree and woodland cover, including deciduous woodland blocks (with rides), game cover, shelterbelts, and avenues, particularly alongside the B6090.
  • Primarily arable agriculture, although some parkland areas (around Rainborough Park) under permanent pasture.
  • Field boundaries include hedgerows (generally well managed) and distinctive estate-influenced stone walls, particularly around Wentworth.
  • Semi-natural habitats include woodlands, hedgerows, open water, Elsecar Canal and its margins.
  • Past and continuing influence of the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate (owned by the Fitzwilliams).
  • Designed landmarks and follies contribute to framed views, including Hoober Stand tower, ‘The Needles’ Eye’ and the spire of Wentworth church.
  • A concentration of well-preserved historic industrial features (including a rare Newcomen Engine) at Elsecar, and also a complex of industrial workshops and a brewery at Wentworth.
  • Settlement consists of scattered farms, and the designed estate villages of Wentworth and Elsecar.
  • Glimpsed long views to larger settlements (e.g. Hoyland) on the skyline.

Historic Landscape Character

The South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation shows a variety of historic landscape patterns within the Designed Estate LCT. In summary, the LCT includes: Assarted enclosure; Agglomerated enclosure; Surveyed enclosure; Nucleated rural settlements (Wentworth); Industrial (Elsecar).

Perceptual and Special Qualities

This is an attractive, well-managed and serene landscape with many designed views and buildings which create a series of changing vistas. The estate influence is particularly apparent in and around the village of Wentworth, which is still owned by the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate. All doors are painted ‘Wentworth Green’ and all signage is in the Estate’s style. This consistency and uniformity adds to the distinctiveness of the area. The industrial heritage of the Dearne Valley is exceptionally well preserved at Elsecar Industrial Heritage Centre and the associated estate village, which provides a strong link to the past.

Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites

There is a concentration of cultural sites within this relatively small area, several of which are popular local destinations:

  • Industrial Heritage Centre at Elsecar, where the survival and preservation of an extensive area of industrial buildings allows a valuable glimpse into the industrial past of the Dearne Valley.
  • Surviving Industrial Estate village of Elsecar (Conservation Area), constructed by the Fitzwilliam family of Wentworth Woodhouse and including cottages, church, school, park (with bandstand), flour mill, etc.
  • The only Newcomen engine to survive in situ, used to pump water from the mine at Elsecar from 1795- 1923.
  • Surviving rural Estate village of Wentworth (Conservation Area) with cottages, church, pubs, brewery etc.
  • Heritage and canal with surviving basin, locks and towpath.
  • Craft workshops and auction house in the former Wentworth workshops and forge.
  • Elsecar reservoir Local Nature Reserve is a popular informal recreation and fishing location.
  • Trans Pennine Trail runs through the area.

Forces for Change and Threats to the Landscape

  • Past mining, the influences of which are still apparent in the landscape, particularly in the northern part of the LCT.
  • Past construction of lines of pylons across the landscape, which affect designed vistas.
  • Past neglect of Elsecar branch of the Dearne and Dove Canal.
  • Neglect of rare in-situ Newcomen pumping engine at Elsecar. (Currently being addressed by Lottery funding bid).
  • Limited access to the landscape as a result of private ownership.
  • Threat of loss of architectural integrity of occupied historic buildings due to incremental changes such as window replacement.
  • Potential landscape changes as a result of renewable energy schemes, e.g. biomass planting, wind turbines etc.
  • Potential future threat of a change in landownership or estate management affecting the character and management of the landscape and of Wentworth village.
  • Potential threat of climate change, affecting crop choice, growing patterns, woodland species composition etc.