Highlights of 2023
Here are some images from our 2023 open season. Thank you to everyone who visited us during the year – your support is valued by the Trustees, Staff and Volunteers at the Mansion.
Mayday Bank Holiday with the Steampunks
The Steampunks of Gloucestershire helped us to celebrate the ancient feast of Beltane on Sunday 30th April and Monday 1st May. Steampunks from across the country dressed up to visit the Mansion. We had Morris dancers, tea-pot races, a real steam engine, a Mummers play, a circus skills session for children, stalls, sideshows, evening entertainment, food and drink – and more besides! Lots of visitors, everyone had a good time. Thank you to all, especially the Steampunks who shouldered most of the organisation. If you came and enjoyed the event last year, or think it sounds interesting, you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ll be welcoming them back on the same weekend in 2024.
The Ragged Oak dancers were all Green Men – or women. Maybe we should say Green People. The big red bus behind was a mobile bar. The Stroud Morris Dancers brought two Hobby Horses. One danced with the ladies and the other (shown here) with the men.
Steampunk Mat McCall helped with the organisation of the weekend. He’s on the left, with other Steampunks in their wonderful costumes centre and right.
The refurbishment of the Roger Ransome Bat Observatory, thanks to a grant from the NHLF Steps to Sustainability project, managed by the Social Enterprise Academy, was completed this year. The new displays for visitors can be seen in the photo below left. A milestone in the management of the grazing outside the Mansion was reached this summer. Following the unexpected death of our tenant, Ann Hardy, in 2022, the National Trust have taken over as tenants. The first of their herd of Belted Galloway cattle arrived in May. They appear in the foreground of the photo below right, with the last half dozen of Ann’s rare breed Welsh Blacks in the field behind. We laughed as Ann’s cows moved up their field to investigate the newcomers as soon as they arrived! We have also expanded our public Bat Experiences this year, with three well-attended events. If you’re interested keep an eye open for this year’s dates.
visited us in June. On a perfect summer evening John White brought his one man show open-air show Divorced, Beheaded, Died to the Mansion. The King was on a royal progress around the country, and after telling us all about the difficulties and delights of the ladies in his life, invited questions from his loyal subjects at the end of the performance. It made an interesting and different evening at the Mansion.
While on matters theatrical, the Festival Players (patron: Dame Judi Dench) are a long-standing favourite at the Mansion. This travelling Shakespearean troupe brought Twelfth Night in August. The outdoor audience all enjoyed the performance and their picnics on a fine summer evening. We look forward to welcoming them back this year.
Heritage Open Day
We joined in the Heritage Open Day Festival on Friday 8th Sept. This nationwide event celebrates UK history and culture. Woodchester Mansion takes part every year and we had about 130 visitors. Some of these only heard of us through the Heritage Open Day publicity, and others were unaware of our normal open days. So the event extends our visitor base, we hope many who came will return for another visit. This year our lovely visitors put £260 in the donations box – a record for this event! Thank you all very much.
Comforts for Visitors!
Our wonderful, hard-working admin assistant, a lady who’s vital to the Mansion’s organisation, has been looking for some redundant church pews for a while. This autumn she discovered that St George’s Church at Nailsworth had some for sale, following refurbishment. We’ve acquired four, to use as seating for visitors. They fit beautifully into the Gothic building.
The Brewery in the Mansion is an unusual though not unheard of feature in country houses. At Woodchester it is only accessible once the resident bats have left their roosts to hibernate for the winter. Hence the opening on the second weekend in October, so visitors can see how this part of the building worked and also view the – relatively complete – servants’ quarters. We were pleased to welcome nearly 500 people over the weekend.
Halloween Spooky Cellars
The open day season culminated with ten days of our classic Halloween Spooky Cellars, for children of all ages, organised by our versatile manager Max. We extended the opening to include autumn half-term dates in both Gloucestershire and South Glos. On some days young visitors were able to meet the Pumpkin Queen in the cellars, and there was also a Golden Pumpkin trail around the house – find the 12 hidden golden pumpkins to win a small prize! The Spooky Cellars and the Golden Pumpkin trail were very popular, and the event gave us a great end-of-season boost.
To the left, you’re in the slimy swamp. Meet Mr Spider on the right.
A real ghost! And to the right, the Pumpkin Queen, in her beautiful hand-made costume.
2024 Open Day Season
We are open 11am - 5pm every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays from Friday 29th March to Sunday 3rd November.