“ Woodchester Mansion is one of the world's most unusual heritage sites. It's an unfinished architectural masterpiece hidden in a secluded Cotswold valley, untouched by time and the modern world ... until now! We're ready and waiting for your production! We're a small, friendly team who are enthusiastic about the Mansion and it's growing popularity as a venue for hire. We understand your requirements, both cinematically as well as practically and welcome every enquiry including the odd ones! As a Trust we are proud to say that any surplus generated from private hire is ploughed directly back into the Fabric & development of the building, so, indirectly, if you film here you are saving this building from becoming a ruin. ”

Hannah McCanlis, Manager

Architectural History

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 I Listed Building has been saved from dereliction but will never be completed. It is absolutely unique because it is unfinished. Visitors walk through an extraordinary architectural exhibit in which the construction secrets of the builders and masons are laid bare. The carvings in Woodchester Mansion are some of the finest of their kind in the world. The architect was Benjamin Bucknall, and both he and his patron, the wealthy William Leigh, were admirers of the 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. William Leigh, a devout Roman Catholic, purchased Woodchester Estate in 1845 and work began on the Mansion in the mid 1850s. The Mansion was still unfinished by the time of Leigh’s death in 1873. Subsequently, it remained untouched, apart from some essential maintenance carried out in the 1950s. It was purchased by Stroud District Council in 1987, along with 23 acres of surrounding pasture. Woodchester Mansion Trust was founded in 1989 to preserve the Mansion. The lawned and immediate area surrounding Woodchester Mansion is owned by us, but the extended parkland and woodland beyond is owned by the National Trust. This is not an issue for film production given our close relationship with the NT in this respect.

Architectural Features

The Mansion is constructed largely from local limestone. The principal rooms on the ground floor are unusual in that they all have stone vaulted ceilings. The south front elevation is extensively glazed, presenting a wall of glass. The gables and stone roof tiles add a Cotswold form to the French style. The south front is finished by four spectacular gargoyles, symbolising the hunt and reflecting the history of the site. Inside the house, the missing floors enable the supporting Arches to be seen, revealing the function of the Buttresses on the fabric of the building. The internal wall in the Hall is pierced by three Fireplaces, one on each floor, demonstrating the need for retaining arches to spread the load of the wall above. In the Dining Room the centering for an arch is still in place. Of the principal rooms, only the Drawing Room is complete, thus presenting production teams with a spatial blank canvas to dress.
The Bathroom has the outstanding feature of a bath carved from a single block of stone, with two faucets, also in stone. In the corner there is a Water Cure Room, essentially a stone shower cubicle providing cold water only through a carved stone leopard’s head. The fireplace in the Bathroom is also superbly carved. Upstairs the second floor corridor reveals the Cotswold stone tiles to the roof and the long oak roof timbers. On the first floor corridor both finished and unfinished vaulted ceilings are visible. There are no floorboards, so the top of the ceiling bosses in the ground floor corridor are visible. These have slots for moving them around, and the original scribing marks. The Grand Staircase features a rare example of a vaulted ceiling constructed on a slope, which is difficult to design and execute.
The Chapel is one of the finest parts of the Mansion. Unfortunately two of the columns have suffered from significant water penetration damage and the internal scaffolding, which supports the tierceron vault, obscures the views of the interior. The Chapel has some interesting roof bosses, such as two green men. There are also two galleries in the French style and a stone confessional booth.

Filming Attributes

Spatial blank canvas. Enfilade of empty rooms. Ruinous state on one side. Central courtyard with clock tower. Its unfinished condition enhances its ghostly aesthetic.
Very flexible attitude to filiming. Previous filming at The Mansion includes:
Restoring England’s Heritage, December 2013, BBC
Great British Ghosts, July 2011, Sky
Autumn Watch, October 2009, BBC
Dracula, December 2009, BBC
Countrywide, May 2009, BBC

map

Special Considerations

  • Accommodate Unit Base
  • Animals Allowed
  • Hotworks
  • Night Shoots
  • Remote Area
  • Weekend Shoots

Topography

Set in a remote valley, surrounded by woodland. Hard standing area around the property. Grass area beyond. No modernity in view.
Woodchester Mansion can be easily accessed from the M5. Note that the entrance to the Mansion and Park is from the B4066 (Stroud to Dursley road) and not from the A46.

Crew and Relevant Links

Contact

Email: nancy.sheridan@heritage4media.com

Phone: Heritage4Media: 07736 364722

Website: www.woodchestermansion.org.uk