Covid-19 made 2020 a very difficult year for everyone. The Woodchester Mansion Trust is a small charity with a big repair bill for the Mansion – in excess of £5m. 90% of our income is earned between April and the end of October. In 2020 we were unable to open as usual at the start of April due to lockdown and by the summer the situation looked bleak. As a charity we are required to hold an emergency fund but despite drastic economies this was going down. However, we received a government small business grant of £10k in May 2020 and at the end of June we were delighted to receive a grant from the Heritage Emergency Fund. This helped with re-opening the Mansion to the public in early August. The Covid-secure Open Days went well and brought a small amount of much-needed revenue.
Culture Recovery Fund
In August 2020 we applied to the government Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage for support over the winter. At the end of September we were very pleased to hear that we had been successful. The grant helped us meet essential overheads and staff costs until 31 Mar 2021. It also included funding for consultancy on improving our business and adapting for the post-covid era. We have found the advice very useful and hope that we will be able to continue our mission of conserving the historic Mansion.
Heritage Stimulus Fund
The ironing room roof before repairs.
Historic England managed the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund. The Heritage Stimulus Fund was for major works on heritage properties open to the public. Historic England devolved the management of a cluster of grants in this funding stream in a single contract to the Historic Houses Foundation, who invited the Woodchester Mansion Trust to participate.
We were able to meet the necessary conditions, including providing matched funding from our own resources, for a project to repair of the roofs on both the Ironing Room and the adjacent part of the North Range. The stone chimneys on the N Range will be restored too, and the grant includes repair of damaged stonework on two east facing windows in the corridors in the South Range. The total cost of the work was well over £400,000.
We were delighted to be awarded the grant, especially as it enabled us to bring this phase of the conservation programme forward by 9-12 months. You can see how the work progressedhere. The projectwill have a longer term benefit by enabling the Mansion Trust to open up some of the rooms underneath – the ironing room in the East Range and some rooms in the North Range – for use by visitors.
If you wish, you can help the Mansion by visiting, or by making a donation, or becoming a member.