The Two Wentworth Woodhouses

I had previously tried, and failed, to gain admission to Wentworth Woodhouse, the Yorkshire mansion famed for the longest continuous frontage in Europe. It was certainly more impressive on this occasion than the former. What I had not realised is that it is made of two houses, the east-facing, at what is now the front (above), and the west-facing, which is now considered the rear (below).

The west-facing is the older of the two and is built of red brick in the style of English baroque. It is ornate and decorated, built by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, the first Marquess of Rockingham. By the time his son, the second Marquess inherited the estate, baroque was considered old fashioned and more aligned to the Tory Party, his political opponents. He therefore arranged for the new east-facing house to be built, adjoined to the former, but in the simpler, though no less elegant, classical style. This was more suited to his Whiggish sensibilities, and was considered more tasteful. If baroque reminded Englishmen of the Italian Renaissance, which re-birthed the learning of Greece and Rome after a millennium of medieval barbarism, the classical style harked to that very original blueprint with its columns and pediments, for which the Renaissance yearned.

It seems odd to us that one’s world view, be that political or educational, should determine the building style of our home. Few of us have the wealth to build a new house, or even to move to an existing one which better reflects our tastes and values. I might decorate and furnish my house according to preference, but that is as far as it goes. I was recently asked what the accommodation would be like in heaven, or in New Jerusalem. I confessed to having little idea, but I knew it would be perfect. This is because Christ is designing and preparing it, with no fool offering Him poor advice. It will not be subjected to political taste or family ambition; it will be free of architectural fashion and artistsic folly. It will simply be perfect. 

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2