Woodchester Mansion is a Grade I listed house in the Victorian Gothic style. It is absolutely unique because it is unfinished.
The architect was a young local man called Benjamin Bucknall, and both he and his patron, the wealthy William Leigh, were admirers of the important French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
There is a strong French influence in the style of the house which also makes Woodchester slightly different from other buildings of its type and time. In addition, Leigh was a perfectionist who exerted a strong and active influence on all the work he undertook, so the quality of the craftsmanship in the house is very high.
Click HERE for a full historical breakdown of the Mansion.
I first saw this place years back on a live episode of Most Haunted, it looked like a fascinating place and since then I have wanted to visit, but timing has never been right.
Over the summer, I found myself down in Devon for a week and on the way home, I though I would check to see how far out of my way the Mansion was, my luck was in as it was not too much of a detour for me, so the location was set in the SatNav and off I went.
Woodchester Mansion is known as a bit of a ‘Hidden Gem’, there is a good reason for this, as for some unknown reason, the people responsible for handing out ‘brown signs’ directing people to such places have decided that this place does not meet the criteria for having one, so as a result, it’s quite a tricky place to find, so after finally finding the car park, then wandering around the woods for half an hour, the building finally emerged out of the trees and what a magnificent sight it was.
The mansion is Grade I listed, which means that it can never be completed, it has to remain in the state it was in when it was abandoned.
There have never been any windows in the property, so the trustees have put ‘temporary’ plastic windows in to protect the building from the elements as much as they can. It’s the same story with the floor in the building, this was never completed, so what they have done is put a ‘floating’ floor down, which can be removed from the property, should they lose ownership of the building, or it is sold to another party.
The trustees are allowed to renovate anything which has already been completed and return it to it’s former glory, as a result there are regular visits from trainee stone masons who are painstakingly restoring a lot of the features that have fallen into a state of disrepair during the period when the house was finally abandoned and before the trust took over ownership – it’s amazing the damage mother nature can do to a building that is not looked after.
There is a guided tour available for the visitors, which costs a very reasonable £7.50 and is run by one of the very knowledgeable trustees of the building and on my visit I was in luck, as there was only one other person on my particular tour, so it felt very personal and allowed me to take in much of the history of the building.
After the tour was over, I was allowed free roam around the house and spent the next couple of hours taking a lot of photos of the various details that are featured in the building.