The History of Woodchester Mansion
Woodchester Mansion is one of Britain's greatest mysteries. A beautiful Victorian gothic mansion nestled in a valley, surrounded by woodland in the Gloucestershire countryside. It was never completed or lived in, for reason still unknown. Is it a perfectly peaceful location or eerily isolated? When you discover a little more, you may make up your mind!
Over time, three different buildings have occupied the site on which Woodchester Mansion nows sits. This could be a good reason for the level of hauntings reported from an unfinished house. A manor house was inherited by George Huntley of Frocester in 1564. Huntley began developing the building and land, but the extent of the work nearly bankrupted the family and the house and park were sold on to Sir Robert Ducie in 1631. The Ducie family transformed the manor house into 'Spring Park Mansion' and maintained the state for over two hundred years. On his succession, the 2nd Earl is said to have thrown a dinner party. During the evening, the ghost of his father appeared in his chair at the table. The Earl was apparently so scared that he fled the house and never returned. Perhaps the £8000 repairs were more to do with his departure. The house was put up for sale in 1843.
Business man William Leigh bought the house for £170,000. However, he was advised that it should be demolished and rebuilt from scratch due to the extremely poor condition the building was in. The design was ultimately carried out by young local architect, Benjamin Bucknall. Both Leigh and Bucknall had a passion for French design, which can been seen in the style of the building today. Construction began, and continued for the next sixteen years. One day, in 1868, workers downed tools and left. No one knows the reason for the workmen's departure. There are rumours of a murder taking place on the site, however there is no evidence to validate this theory. Others blame supernatural activity on the site. Were the labourers frightened so much so they fled, leaving their equipment behind, never to return? Recent investigations could certainly support this idea. A more plausible reason would be that, once again, funds dried up and work was unable to continue. But would this have led to the house being abandoned in such a manor, valued tools being left behind?
The house was left in a 'fun house' like state, doors lead nowhere and upper floors ended precariously. When Leigh died, his son Willie received two quotes from Bucknall, one for completion of the mansion along with maintenance costs, the other to start a new house on the park. Willie Leigh could not afford to complete the mansion and it was sold in March 1922 for £52,500. There were various plans made for the Woodchester Mansion over the years, none of which came into fruition. Troops were based on the land during World War II, the lakes in the valley were used for training in bridge building. The mansion eventually fell into the care of The Woodchester Manion Trust, who thankfully continue to maintain the building's condition to this day.