A look at the history of Hoober Stand with Dr Emma Wells

in Wentworth, South Yorkshire

Down a snaking scenic rural lane near Rotherham, and rising out of the rippling fields, is the unusual monument of Hoober Stand. Situated on the highest ridge in the Wentworth area, and commanding extensive views from its 100-foot summit, this strange yet pleasing pyramidal-shaped folly is lean and blackened.

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Designed in the late 18th century by Palladian architect Henry Flitcroft, who also devised Alfred’s Tower at Stourhead and Fort Belverdere at Windsor, and commissioned by the Thomas Watson Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham, it forms one in a series of decorative buildings erected to mark the end of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion as a result of the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden, during which Watson Wentworth fought on the side of King George II.

In recognition of his contribution to the win, the King elevated Wentworth to Marquis, and he thus built the 30-metre tower to show his gratitude. The inscription on its marble panel above the doorway reads:  

THIS PYRAMIDALL BUILDING WAS ERECTED BY HIS MAJESTYS MOST DUTIFUL SUBJECT THOMAS MARQUESS OF ROCKINGHAM IN GRATEFUL RESPECT TO THE PRESERVER OF OUR RELIGIOUS LAWS AND LIBERTYS KING GEORGE THE SECOND WHO, BY THE BLESSING OF GOD HAVING SUBDUED A MOST UNNATURAL REBELLION IN BRITAIN ANNO 1746 MAINTAINS THE BALANCE OF POWER AND SETTLES A JUST AND HONOURABLE PEACE IN EUROPE 1748.

Alongside the east front of Wentworth Woodhouse, the Needles Eye and Keppels Column, the Marquis’ architectural legacy was thus secured.

Assembled out of buttery yellow sandstone which has since faced the smoke of South Yorkshire and subsequently long since blackened, Hoober Stand is in fact a belvedere or prospect tower, with a crowning viewing platform reached after climbing the 155 internal stone steps (unfortunately now inaccessible). The rest of the massive tapering tower’s exterior features little architectural ornamentation but is topped by an hexagonal lantern, which is designed to trick the eye into believing the monument is about to topple. Rest assured, this behemoth is going nowhere so do take a visit.


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