Originally constructed in the 12th century, this building has seen numerous changes to its external appearance. The structure was once a private residence mainly of the Wortley family, who were also known as the Earls of Wharncliffe. It was extensively refurbished in the early 19th century. In the 1950s however, with the family falling on relatively hard times, the house and immediate gardens were put up for sale.
The house was purchased by a consortium of trade unions and political parties for use largely as a training center. Since, it has been used as a social event space and has become known as the Workers’ Stately Home.
The 20th-century refurbishment of the property was carried out on a voluntary basis by local workers. The property continues as an important center of residential courses for the training of trade union officers.
Many of the rooms are named after famous historic members of the socialist movement, trade unions, and other organizations that supported the refurbishment. The site has become an important venue for musical performances especially those organized by the Workers’ Music Association.
To provide for the upkeep of the building, it has also been adopted as a very attractive wedding venue and continues to offer hotel and restaurant services. Non-residents can use the restaurant and the traditional “afternoon tea” is excellent.