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Points of interest
Woodchester Mansion is a 19th Century Victorian Gothic Masterpiece mysteriously abandoned mid-construction. Hidden in a secluded Cotswold valley, it is untouched by time and the modern world. This Grade 1 Listed Building has been saved from dereliction, but will never be completed.
It is an unfinished masterpiece. Building started about 1857, but stopped in the mid-1860s so floors and ceilings are missing, walls not plastered and windows unglazed. All the secrets of the construction of the Mansion are visible - something visitors will never see in another country house.
The Mansion is the masterpiece of a young local architect, Benjamin Bucknall from Rodborough. He produced a unique Gothic Revival house which blends the local traditional work in limestone with the ideas of the French architectural thinker Viollet-le-Duc.
The quality of the stone carvings in the Mansion is outstanding: some are inspired by the plants in the surrounding valley and others are life-like images of animals. There are also real mammals to be seen as the Mansion houses breeding colonies of Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats.
Owned by Stroud District Council, the Mansion is managed by the Woodchester Mansion Trust (itis not a National Trust property). On Open Days visitors can see how the house was built, admire the fine carvings and look at the bats on CCTV. Refreshments are available and the surrounding Woodchester Park (National Trust) can be explored.
Woodchester Park is home to the remains of an 18th- and 19th-century landscape park, a Victorian mansion, a chain of five lakes fringed by woodland and pasture, and an abundance of wildlife. The park has a play trail which is based in a lovely woodland setting, along a short, circular waymarked walk. At the woodland play trail you'll find wobble beams, stepping logs, a see-saw, wooden hop-scotch, balance bridges, rope swings and of course a climbing frame or two. For more adventurous explorers, there's Woodchester's famous zip wire. Cradled deep in the wooded valley and on the banks of Middle Pond, Woodchester's boathouse has a fascinating history.