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GHOST HUNT AT WOODCHESTER MANSION, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
AS SEEN ON LIVING TV'S 'MOST HAUNTED'
& 'GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL'
History of Woodchester Mansion
The imposing, unfinished gothic house which is Woodchester Mansion replaced an earlier Georgian country house called Spring Park, which formed part of the land holdings of the second Earl of Ducie, who put the house up for sale in 1844. Purchased by William Leigh for £100,000, plans were drawn for a new house in the fashionable gothic style, with Benjamin Bucknall, a young and relatively inexperienced architect eventually taking charge of the commission. Woodchester Mansion is now considered to be his, albeit incomplete, masterpiece.
The exact date when work started on the new building is unknown, but by 1858 the clock tower had been completed and by 1866 the main building had been roofed. However, one day in 1868 workers mysteriously laid down tools and abandoned the site, never to return. No facts have been established, but rumours that the workers were unsettled by several deaths, including a murder, have refused to go away over the years.
After William Leigh's death in 1973, it is perhaps fair to say that his surviving family were less than keen on his design for Woodchester Mansion. They commissioned another architect, James Wilson, to draw up plans for a completely new house, but the cost was far too high for them to afford and no further work was carried out until 1894, when the drawing room was updated for the visit of Cardinal Vaughan. In 1878, original architect Bucknall, obviously bitterly disappointed that his grand vision hadn't been finished, wrote the following in a letter to Leigh's son:
"There is nothing more sad to the sight than an unfinished work and it is even more forlorn than a ruin of a building which has served its purpose..."
Vincent Leigh, William's grandson, lived in part of the mansion at the turn of the century but in 1938 his sisters sold the estate to the Barnwood Trust, who intended to convert the mansion into a mental home. However, the second world war intervened, during which time American and Canadian troops used it as a base. In the 1950s it became a field study centre before Stroud District Council purchased the mansion, now classified as a Grade 1 listed building, to save it from ruin. English Heritage helped fund emergency repairs and in 1992 local people, under the title of The Woodchester Mansion Trust, signed a 99-year lease on the mansion and 23 acres of pasture. Up to present day, the Grand Staircase has been repaired, the West Range and Clock Tower restored and the rejuvenation of Woodchester Mansion continues.
Ghosts of Woodchester Mansion
Perhaps unusually, Woodchester has only been considered to be haunted in recent years. However, on September 2001, the first known paranormal investigation at the location was carried out by an American TV production company as part of research for a programme called 'The Scariest Places on Earth'. The team that night included two members of The Ghost Club of Great Britain and two staff members of The Woodchester Mansion Trust. Given its lack of reputation as a haunted building, expectations were low, but at midnight the noises started. A soft tapping sound was heard emanating from the top of a 25 foot Victorian ladder which was left when the builders had abandoned the mansion. At around 2:30am, a metallic tapping sound, like a hammer hitting stone, was heard coming from the south range corridor on the first floor. It intensified in pitch and volume over around 15 minutes, until most of the group had to cover their ears with their hands. Upon investigation, the noise stopped abruptly the second that someone shone a torch along the corridor.
The noise started again at 4am, so several members of the group made their way to the first floor corridor. As they were ascending the Grand Staircase, an almighty crack and the sound of falling masonry sent the group scattering in different directions as they leapt out of the way of whatever was coming down on top of them. One member was convinced he saw falling shapes and a piece of stone bounce near to his foot. However, once it was established that everyone was okay, they could find no trace of any disturbance or fallen masonry. As the tapping sound was continuing, the group spread themselves along the corridor when a noise described variously as a train or jet engine seemed to move between them, followed by a sound of something very heavy being dragged along the floor towards the hall, where it stopped. All members of the group reported feeling the building itself vibrate.
And so it was that Woodchester Mansion became a favourite location for ghost-hunters from all over the world. It has been investigated by the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), Living TV's 'Most Haunted', 'Scream Team' and 'Ghost Hunters International' programmes, as well as numerous other groups and organisations.
While there just isn't enough room here to list all of the ghostly goings on experienced, commonly recurring phenomena includes the aforementioned tapping noises and the sound and sight of falling masonry, the clock pendulum moving of its own accord and stones and twigs being thrown horizontally by unseen hands. The sound of voices is heard on many an occasion, either of two men talking, children playing or a wailing, shouting woman. Several EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) have been recorded, mostly in the cellars, of a male voice laughing manically and another male voice which seems to say 'bless you!' Even during the day, people report physical phenomena such as being touched or shoved, and female visitors often have their hair tugged or bottoms pinched!
Psychics and mediums over the years have often described what appear to be the same spirits haunting Woodchester Mansion. The most frequent characters 'picked up' include a distressed young blonde woman, possibly called Elizabeth (thought to be the same lady seen at an upstairs window by several visitors, even though there is no floor in that part!), a young servant girl who roams the scullery area, a very tall man in the vicinity of the chapel, WW2 soldiers around the bathroom and upper north range and Roman soldiers marching through the grounds of the house. Indeed, one of the older ghost stories about Woodchester is that of a Roman centurion patrolling the gate on the south road. Other sightings include a 'ragged looking' dwarf, a headless horseman, a floating coffin, a black dog (considered a death portent) and most frequently, a spectral figure which has come to be regarded as a man in his nightshirt who was unfortunately savaged by his own dogs.
After sunset, Woodchester Mansion takes on a strange and ethereal quality; the derelict rooms and echoing corridors will test the nerve of even the most hardened ghost hunter. Eerie Evenings has exclusive access throughout the night, so join our team of seasoned paranormal investigators and psychic mediums as we embark on what is certain to be an unforgettable experience.
Ghost Hunt at Woodchester Mansion Includes:
~ Platform Readings from our Spiritualist Mediums
~ History Talk and Ghostly Tales
~ Late-Night Ghost Hunt & Paranormal Investigation
~ Opportunity to use Ghost-Hunting Equipment
~ Sťance and Controlled 'Contact Experiments'
~ Refreshments Throughout
*The event will run from approx. 9pm - 4am*
Ticket Price: £55 per person
Use the link below to purchase places for the event or book over the phone by calling 0845 201 3994
A deposit option of £15 per person is available with balance payable 3 weeks before the event. Please call us on 0845 201 3994 if you would like to use this option.
10% Discount for Groups of 10 or More
(Contact us to Check Availability Before Booking)
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PHONE US ON: 0845 201 3994