New CEO to pilot Mansion development

Kate HoweBREATHTAKING Woodchester Mansion has already worked its magic on its new chief executive officer Dr Kate Howe.

Dr Howe, who has almost 30 years experience as a senior heritage development professional, had until recently never heard of the stunning listed Victorian Gothic masterpiece near Stroud.

But now it’s her mission to make sure the mansion, which was mysteriously abandoned mid-construction in 1873, is a best kept secret no more.

“I was looking for a new development project.  Something exciting to grab my interest. I was looking for a Grade One listed building,” Kate said.

“It had a sense of excitement because I had never ever heard of it.  A magical hidden mansion in a Cotswold valley.  It had a huge sense of romance and mystery about it.”

Kate, who previously led fundraising and delivery of The Cardiff Story at the capital city’s museum, was also development manager and senior curator of the Black Country Living Museum.

Her appointment, which began this month (feb), comes at a key time in the development of Woodchester Mansion as a major visitor attraction.

The mansion trustees have already announced their aim of increasing from under 10,000 to nearer 50,000 visitors a year.

Trustees’ chairman Terry Robinson said: “The Woodchester Mansion Trust has embarked on a process of transition that will see the future of the magnificent building assured well into the 21st century.

“The trustees are delighted to welcome Dr Howe as their new chief executive.  She will pilot the trust through an important period of change,”  Mr Robinson said.

“Her extensive experience will be instrumental in seeing the mansion emerge as an important heritage attraction, supporting cultural and educational development and delivering significant economic benefit to the district.”

Woodchester Mansion left unfinished by workmen who simply dropped their tools and left them behind. The building’s incomplete state therefore offers a glimpse of the stonemason’s craft that is unique in the world.

Grade One listed Woodchester Mansion lies hidden and untouched by time in the secluded Woodchester Park valley, which is separately owned and run by the National Trust.

The mansion open days offer a regular mini bus shuttle service down the valley and guided tours of the house itself.

February 2015

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