A Historic Building of International Significance
To progress plans for conservation of the Mansion, the Trustees have commissioned an up-to-date Conservation Management Plan from Donald Insall Associates, a well-known architectural and historic building consultancy specialising in heritage sites. One of the many facets of the Mansion covered in the plan was the significance of the building.
The Mansion was rated as having international significance in the following areas:
- In conservation, due to the influence of the ideas of the French architect Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc on the young local architect Benjamin Bucknall.
- In design, firstly because some of the original drawings for the house have survived (not only finished, detailed work, but also rough sketches showing how ideas evolved). Copies of many of these can be seen in the Mansion.
- In design, secondly because Bucknall demonstrates his mastery of the principles of the Gothic style with a boldly-executed, adventurous and daring structure.
- In ecology, as the Mansion houses breeding colonies of greater and lesser horseshoe bats. The greater horseshoes are the subject of the longest continuous study of any mammal by a single person in the world.
- In incompleteness, as the unfinished building offers a unique opportunity to understand how a house of the period was built.
Additionally, the Mansion was rated as of national significance for these reasons:
- The architecture blends the historic with the Cotswold vernacular.
- The interior design, sadly never realised, would have been luxurious and is indicated by the grand scale of the principal rooms.
- The building reflects the devout Catholicism of the owner.
- The high-quality craftsmanship in the extant interior and exterior decoration.
- The artistic merit of the cathedral-like internal spaces, created inadvertently due to incompleteness.
- The association with the architect Benjamin Bucknall. The Mansion is arguably his earliest and greatest work.
- The educational potential, especially for practical training of stonemasons.
All are excellent reasons for anyone with an interest in old buildings to come to Woodchester and broaden their knowledge by visiting the house like no other.