Woodchester Mansion Trust gains HLF grant

PRESS RELEASE

17th August 2010

Woodchester Mansion Trust Gains Heritage Lottery Fund Grant

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a grant of £49,800 to Woodchester Mansion Trust to help provide more public access to the Grade 1 listed unfinished architectural masterpiece, near Stroud in Gloucestershire. 

The successful bid, made under the Your Heritage scheme, is for a comprehensive programme of enhancements titled Time Stands Still.  The project will include conservation work on the Woodchester Mansion archive and a programme of activities and interpretation to deepen understanding of the historic and wildlife significance of the Mansion and Park.  School students will benefit from initiatives such as a "Virtual Mansion" website and travelling display unit.

“This money will lift the lid on a fascinating archive that has long been kept from public view. Since 2002 we have been collecting and cataloguing material that sheds new light on the mystery of the abandonment of Woodchester Mansion in the mid-1870s. It helps piece together the story of its builder, William Leigh, his young prodigy architect Benjamin Bucknall, and the story of the Leigh family who lived in Woodchester Park until the 1940s,” said Stephen Davis, Chairman of Woodchester Mansion Trust.

“This is one of England’s most fascinating and mysterious buildings. The HLF Your Heritage grant enables us to share this unique archive material with new audiences and we are developing an education programme with its own website, in partnership with local schools.  For the first time, working in partnership with Gloucestershire Records Office, we will be able to show the public the extraordinary collection of original working drawings for the building, and in partnership with the National Trust, we will make the Mansion into a visitor centre for those who visit the spectacular Woodchester Park.  Time Stands Still is a major step in reuniting Mansion with Park, and bringing one of Britain’s most unusual heritage sites to a new generation,” said Mr Davis.

Commenting on the award HLF’s Head of Region for the South West, Nerys Watts, said:  “Woodchester Mansion provides a unique illustration of the Victorian Gothic Revival building process and has been described as ‘one of the great achievements of C19 domestic architecture in England’.  We were therefore delighted to support this project which will both conserve an important archive and create opportunities for a much wider range of people to learn about and become involved with this significant part of our heritage.”

Woodchester Mansion has already been the subject of ongoing building repairs supported by a previous HLF grant of over £800,000. The mansion was left in an unfinished condition when builders suddenly abandoned their tools and left the site to nature more than a century ago. The reason it was never finished remains a mystery

The Volunteers of Woodchester Mansion Trust have been opening the Mansion to the public for more than 20 years, and the trust has pioneered the hands-on training of young craftspeople since its foundation.

“We are the original Living Classroom,” said the trust’s Training Director, stonemason Johnny Anderson. “Now we will serve audiences from primary school age and upwards, and our visitors will see that as a leading conservation and education charity, we are not standing still.”

The Trust’s Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.

END

For further information, please contact:
Hannah Jones, Administrator at Woodchester Mansion Trust
on 01453 861541 or office@woodchestermansion.org.uk
 
For further information on the Heritage Lottery Fund see the HLF website

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