Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire is an unfinished Gothic masterpiece, it is also a terrifying place for an overnight ghost hunt due to the sinister and oppressive spirits that haunt its dark corridors. Ghost hunts here are certainly not for the faint hearted and the activity experienced here has included EVP recordings, extreme temperature fluctuations and even apparitions. Carry out a ghost hunt with Haunted Happenings in this location throughout the night if you dare and make contact with the resident spirits that haunt this old mansion.
Woodchester Mansion is probably one of the most famously haunted buildings in the UK. We have access to this terrifying location that holds many dark secrets which include rituals, black magic, death, sacrifice and even murder. It has a dire history that is sensed as soon as you enter the stone walls of this frightening and daunting building. The paranormal and sinister activity recorded here has left people quite frankly too afraid to re-enter. Haunted Happenings ghost hunts at Woodchester Mansion have always left us wanting to go back for more.
As you can see an overnight ghost hunt at the terrifying Woodchester Mansion is not to be taken lightly and the fear experienced by many within its dark corridors and rooms has led some to flee and refuse to return. Visited by Most Haunted in 2002 and 2005, it has become a favourite of paranormal societies and ghost hunters. Massive bangs from within the building have been heard, stones thrown from empty rooms, Poltergeist activity is commonplace and even apparitions have been witnessed. Some incredible EVP (electronic voice phenomena) was recorded during one investigation and one of our own guests captured the startling image of an Airman while conducting a lone vigil. There is little doubt that this daunting location is haunted, but will you discover this for yourself?
Woodchester Mansion is probably one of the most famously haunted buildings in the UK. This terrifying location holds many dark secrets which include rituals, black magic, death, sacrifice and even murder. It has a dire history that is sensed as soon as you enter the stone walls of this frightening and daunting building.
The paranormal and sinister activity recorded here has left people quite frankly too afraid to re-enter. Working in teams we will be carrying out experiments and vigils in the most active areas of this stone mansion. You will be working with the team in all areas and taking part in seances in our attempts to communicate with the ghosts and spirits that reside here. Do you have what it takes to join us?
Woodchester Mansion sits on the site of a much earlier Georgian country house called Spring Park. We do not know when work began on the new house, but by 1866 the clock tower was complete and the roof was in place. Workers mysteriously laid down their tools in early 1868 and never returned. Rumours that they were unsettled by several mysterious deaths and one murder have never been substantiated, but refuse to go away. After failing to complete the project, it was destined to become a mental institution, but the Second World War came and Woodchester Mansion became a base for American and Canadian troops. It was during training that several lives were lost when a bridge collapsed, plunging some of the troops into the lake and to a watery grave. Their bodies were stored inside the building and some believe that they haunt Woodchester mansion to this very day.
The original manor house for Woodchester in South West Glousestershire was in the heart of the settlement of Woodchester itself, next to the old church. After a succession of owners the manor was granted to George Huntley in 1564. The expense of creating a huge deer park is thought to have nearly bankrupted the Huntleys and the manor and park were sold to Sir Robert Ducie in 1631. Later generations of the Ducie family decided to build a grand country house and, at the same time, create a magnificent landscaped park out of the deer park. Quite why this site was chosen will forever remain an unknown fact. The steep sides of the valley mean that for much of the year the sun is obscured.
The Mansion house being positioned halfway down the length of the valley reduces the dramatic views that would have surely been seen if it had been built on a higher spot. The site is neither convenient nor easy for transport. It is thought that because it was not the Ducie's principal residence, they may have looked at it more as an isolated retreat. They decided to extend and adapt the hunting lodge and lay out a formal garden, and although a precise start date is not known, the house called Spring Park was constructed during the 1740s. Certainly by 1750 it was finished, as Frederick, Prince of Wales stayed and in 1788 George III visited.
Before the visit of George III and only 30 years after the formal gardens were established a start was made on extensively re-landscaping the grounds from plans drawn-up by John Speyers, working with Capability Brown. This plan removed the more formal aspect of the garden to create a naturalistic park.
Not only was the park remodelled but the house itself was too several times in the 1770s and 1830s (including the reintroduction of a more formal garden area by Humphrey Repton) but in 1840 and because the 2nd Earl Ducie wanted further alterations and repairs, the estimate was thought to be too great and the estate was sold to William Leigh, a wealthy merchant.
William Leigh was born in Liverpool, and educated at Oxford and Eton. At the time of the purchase he was living at Little Aston Hall in Staffordshire, where he had recently converted to the Roman Catholic faith. This and the Gothic Revival style in architecture were very fashionable and formed the ideology for the new house. He approached Augustus Pugin to draw up the new plans. However, in 1846 he became ill and the project was dropped. Leigh meanwhile gave land in South Woodchester to a community of Roman Catholic Passionist fathers for a monastery and church. He then turned to Charles Francis Hansom, whose brother designed the famous Hansom cab of Victorian London to take over and administer the architectural planning.
In 1857 Leigh got rid of Hansom and unexpectedly hired Benjamin Bucknall, a young man who was an aspiring architect and assistant to Hansom, but very inexperienced. Bucknall set about studying Gothic Revival architecture the result, Woodchester Mansion, is said to be Bucknall's masterpiece. Woodchester Mansion was constructed from 1858 to 1870, and finally in 1873, when William Leigh died, all work stopped abruptly and the mansion was left more or less as it appears today.
It may be surmised that Leigh's surviving family were less keen on the design for shortly after Leigh's death they asked another architect, James Wilson of Bath, Somerset, to propose a new design. This he did in his flamboyant Italianate style, but the cost of completing a new mansion was too great for any of them to afford. (Indeed, it raises the question of how they ever thought they could both demolish and build a completely new building, but clearly it underlines that they did not share their father's passion for living in monastic conditions.) Wilson had his own opinion of the site and wanted the family to build, if they were going to, in a new location in the valley.
I consider the situation far from the best that might have been selected on the estate it is low, damp, and has much shut in on the south, west and north, so that a free circulation of air is impeded. Its position is much too close to the high bank on the north, which will always keep the house damp, and if this bank were sloped off and formed into terraces (which must be allowed with a large outlay) still there would be a closeness and humidity, which would always prove to be detrimental. In the meantime, Bucknall had moved to Algiers where he worked on domestic projects and villas. The reason for his move is unknown, although poor health is one reason put forward, but without doubt he must have been bitterly disappointed that his grand vision and architectural statement had not been realised.
In 1938, William Leigh's granddaughters, Blanche and Beatrice, sold the house and what was left of the estate to a mental health charity, the Barnwood House Trust. They intended to convert the mansion into a mental hospital, but subsequently this plan was shelved. During the Second World War, the grounds were used as a billet for Canadian and American troops, and the mansion itself used by St Paul's Teacher Training College. It was then abandoned to the elements. Fortunately, its isolated position meant it did not suffer from vandalism, it was not redeveloped.
Local people ensured it never fell into total disrepair and the mansion and a small area of surrounding land was eventually purchased by Stroud District Council, who leased it to a building restoration trust, the Woodchester Mansion Trust in 1992. A board of Trustees manage the mansion and open it to the public from April 1 to October 31 on Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays (ie closed all Mondays unless a Bank Holiday) with the aid of volunteers. The Woodchester Mansion Trust also operates a programme of training courses in stone conservation and craftsmanship at the mansion.