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Lauren Ellis, paralegal at Minster Law, shares her recent volunteering experience at Wentworth Woodhouse.

At Minster Law we are fortunate enough to be given time every year for volunteering, and this year some colleagues and I recently completed our annual volunteer day at Wentworth Woodhouse. Whilst at the stately home, we were taken into the 87 acres of gardens by the head gardener, where we helped another regular volunteer team.

We mainly worked in the gardens throughout the day, cutting into brambles, picking weeds, and generally tidying the gardens. The piles of branches and debris were then moved onto trailers to be removed from the exquisite gardens, making sure they were back tidy for visitors.

It was interesting to work alongside the other volunteers who do this once a week as they have a lot of information about the house and old stories which they shared with us which were fascinating.  Some of the stories and history of Wentworth include the fact that it has acted as a training depot and headquarters of the intelligence corps during the Second World, and in 1946 coal mining began on the estate when the country needed coal. Then, after Lady Mable struck a deal with West Riding County Council most of the house was leased out for educational purposes and from 1949-1979 the house was home to the Lady Mabel college of physical education.  The house has featured in many films over the years, most recently Downton Abbey, Victoria and Gentleman Jack.

At the end of the day, we were very lucky to be given a tour around of the house, which has over 300 rooms and architecture from the 1720’s right through to the 1890’s. There are some exquisite features with the big staircase, the hall filled with pillars and beautifully designed entertainment rooms. There is even a church inside the house. The ballroom was by far my favourite with the marble floors and high ceilings.. There were many paintings around the house, with one being the ‘whistlejacket’ a famous racehorse.

It was truly remarkable and I’m grateful to Minster for giving me the time and the opportunity to experience Wentworth Woodhouse.  It feels good to have a learnt a lot about the place, whilst giving something back at the same time.