CANNON Hall’s museum and parklands has closed for five weeks as work steps up on its £3m restoration project.

The Cawthorne site is benefiting from Parks for People cash - made possible by financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund - which will see key features of the 70-acre parkland, such as the ice house, deer shelter and gardener’s cottage, restored to their former Georgian glory. The stately home, which dominates the local landscape and opened as a museum in 1957, was owned by the Spencer-Stanhope family for 300 years. Its grounds were designed in the 18th century by renowned Georgian landscape architect Richard Woods.

Due to the ‘transformational’ nature of the work, the museum and outdoor space - including the car park - were due to closue until mid-February, before further work this week to provide a safe access route through the parkland meant some areas could be reopened tomorrow.

The five-week closure, according to Barnsley Council, will allow major construction work to take place which will see heavy machinery in the parklands and electrical work conducted making it dangerous for people to use.

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesman, said: “The safety of our visitors is of utmost importance to us and although it was a very difficult decision to make to close the park - even for a short time - we felt it was vital to do so. Work has been scheduled at the quietest time of year to minimise disruption which is inevitable when undertaking such a large scale project.

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“When complete the changes will really elevate the attraction, benefiting not only local residents but everyone who visits. We thank visitors old and new for their continued patience during this time and hope they will follow us on this journey as I am sure they will be amazed by the end results.”

Work on the well-loved visitor attraction will bring huge benefits to the area and see changes such as new family activities, the opening up of undiscovered spaces and buildings, the creation of interesting things to see and do as well as introducing boats back on the lakes. The main goal of the project is to improve the visitor experience, according to the council, and ‘shine a spotlight’ on the hall’s history in order to raise its profile.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of HLF, said: “With this investment from National Lottery players, there is real opportunity for the rejuvenated Cannon Hall grounds to deliver huge benefits to the whole community.”

Neighbouring Cannon Hall Farm is open for business as usual and to support the project has allocated extra parking for visitors to use during the closure. Cannon Hall Garden Centre and Thyme Bistro are open and the pet crematorium is open by appointment only on 206053.