Baronet is 'blown away' after finally visiting his ancestral Sheffield home at park celebration
The descendant of a baronet who donated his house and its grounds to become a Sheffield public park finally saw his ancestral home for the first time on a major anniversary.
Whirlow Brook Park in Whirlow was formerly part of the home of Sir Walter and Lady Madge Benton Jones, who lived at Whirlow Brook Hall in the 1920s and established the beautiful gardens around it.
When his wife died in 1938, Sir Walter moved to the family seat at Irnham Hall, Lincolnshire, and later sold the site to the Graves Trust and Sheffield Town Trust for £15,000 with the express wish was that it became a public park.
After much work it did become a park in 1951 – and Sir Walter’s great-grandson, Sir Jamie Benton Jones, visited for the very first time at its 70th anniversary celebrations.
The fifth Baronet of Treeton and his mother Lady Margaret Benton Jones were given a tour of Whirlow Brook Hall, now run by Vine Hotels, and visited a commemorative garden created by Sheffield’s University of the Third Age as well as opening a new shelter there.
The event organised by SU3A was also the official launch of the Friends of Whirlow Brook Park, who are working to restore the park to its former glory. In recent weeks they have been boosted by more than 100 new members, organised events and collaborated with other organisations.
Sir Jamie said he was ‘blown away’ by the park, and has now agreed to become the Friends’ patron. He added: “I had no idea that it was so beautiful and so well looked after by the volunteers.”
Shelagh Woolliscroft, Friends chairman, has also been the driving force behind the commemorative garden.
She said: “We were delighted to welcome Sir Jamie and his family to his ancestral home and very appreciative of his support. Whirlow Brook Park has been very close to my heart for many years and now the Friends group is finally taking off, I am delighted that we can extend the work we’ve been doing to the rest of the park and hopefully parts of the Limb Brook too in future.”
During her speech the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Coun Gail Smith, asked John Bridgland, the grandson of the Lord Mayor TW Bridgland who opened the park in 1951 when John was just seven, to wave to the crowd.