Woodchester Mansion Trust
The Woodchester Mansion Trust
Registered Charity No 900315
Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales
- A Grade 1 Listed architectural masterpiece
- A building of significance at a national and international level
- A Site of Special Scientific Interest for horseshoe bats
- A unique visitor attraction in a spectacular historic park, owned by the National Trust
- A centre for heritage craft education
The Mansion has something to offer to everyone. The independent Woodchester Mansion Trust has the responsibility of caring for this amazing building, a house like no other.
The Trust was established by a group of enthusiastic local people in 1989 when the Mansion had been derelict and neglected for a number of years. The eight Trustees have the duty of managing the Mansion on behalf of the owners, Stroud District Council. They are also charged with securing funding for the conservation of the Mansion. The objective is to repair the structure to the condition it was in when building work stopped about 1870. The Mansion will never be finished.
In parallel with the conservation programme, the Trust supports the training of craftsmen in heritage skills, especially stone masonry. The Mansion provides a ‘living classroom’ where trainees can develop their skills while simultaneously contributing to the restoration work. In addition, the building enables heritage professionals at all levels to extend their knowledge and experience.
The Woodchester Mansion Trust works with a variety of partners to further their aims for both conservation and craft skills training. Stroud District Council have supported the Trust consistently with an annual grant which helps with staffing and running costs. They also provide 'in-kind' help in other areas.
During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020-1 the Mansion Trust received several grants providing funding for essential operational expenses. Details of this much appreciated support are available here.
Maternity roosts of rare Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats have been established in the attics at the NW corner of the Mansion for at least 75 years. As a result the Mansion and surrounding pasture are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the Trust is required to optimise conditions for the bat colony.
The Mansion is a masterpiece of the Victorian Gothic Revival and the highest possible expression of a purism not matched by any other British domestic architecture of the period. Because it was abandoned in mid-construction but with much of its spectacular and painstakingly crafted detail complete, the building is unique in the heritage world as a window on construction methods that link directly to our medieval Gothic heritage. It provides an exceptional experience for visitors, who can walk through and see the naked bones of the construction; a very different involvement to that offered by the usual country house attraction. The Mansion Trust is responsible for arranging the public open days at the Mansion. These are possible due to the hard work of our team of volunteers, which is much appreciated. Volunteers also provide invaluable assistance with routine maintenance.
Woodchester Mansion represents a moment suspended in history, offering visitors a time-travel experience in three dimensions expressing the vision of a precociously talented and ambitious young Victorian architect, Benjamin Bucknall, and an idiosyncratic and devout client, William Leigh, whose wealth and personal circumstances were to prove in the end unequal to his ambition of combining the spiritual and material dimensions of daily life in one unique building. However, his perfectionism ensured the creation of a fascinating edifice that would endure for generations.