Woodchester Mansion is a beautiful unfinished construction made in the Victorian Gothic style and is situated in the magnificent Woodchester Park in Gloucestershire. It is stunning stone work which was abandoned in the middle of its construction because of the financial difficulties of the Leigh family.
The building started in the 1850s and stopped in 1870, and afterward was never completed. Today, it is owned by the Stroud District Council and managed as a tourist attraction by the Woodchester Mansion Trust. Visitors come to see this old beauty because it is shrouded in mystery, and because of the many ghost stories surrounding it, it has become one of the most mysterious haunted houses in the country.
Before the building was made, the freemason William Leigh purchased the previous building which was called Spring Park and decided to demolish it to build his dream house. He was born in 1802 in Liverpool and finished college in Oxford. In 1844, William converted to Roman Catholicism and decided to move to Gloucestershire where he wanted to create a community.
The first two buildings constructed on the estate were a church and a monastery. For the house, William hired the architect Benjamin Bucknall and together they designed a mansion which had a different architectural style from the houses in the area. They were influenced by the famous French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
Viollet-le-Duc was known for his many restorations of French medieval buildings including the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. During the construction of the Woodchester Mansion, Leigh involved himself in every detail of the construction, his opinion about every part of it being final.
The windows, the roofs, the spaces for the rooms were all made very carefully because the principal thing that the owner was obsessed with was quality. Unfortunately, Leigh died in 1873 leaving the house unfinished. After his death, the estate was owned by his son Willie Leigh. Willie had no intention of finishing the mansion because the materials were too expensive and he wanted to invest his money in building a new house.
There are many stories about the mansion and why the construction workers simply left it in just one day. It is said that one of the reasons was, in fact, that a murder had occurred there, probably within the stone shell of the place, and some locals claim that there is some paranormal activity going on around the abandoned mansion.
These scary stories made the house even more attractive, and visitors from everywhere come to see it. There is a clock on the main tower of the house that was made by Bucknall and many people who visited the house claim that sometimes they can hear it ticking. Besides the ghost stories, it is a very exciting opportunity for the tourists to see how the Victorian Gothic mansions were made.
Inside the hall, there are three fireplaces, and the arches that hold the roofs and the inside walls can be seen. Of the many rooms that were planned, only one was completed in 1894. It was the drawing room, and it was finished in a hurry because Cardinal Vaughan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster came to visit the estate.
With its many mysteries and shadows, the Woodchester Mansion is one of the most stunning properties in Gloucestershire. In 1953, the house was leased by Reginald Kelly who took excellent care of the building. After he left, no one maintained it for almost twenty years until the Stroud District Council purchased it in 1988. The managers of the house and park are also guardians of the greater horseshoe bats that can be seen flying around at night which makes the mansion even more spooky and exciting.