The house from a 1907 postcard
Earlier Houses: The current house replaced an early 18th century house called Spring Park, which was named for the many springs in the valley. The 18th century house was, itself, preceded by at least one earlier house on the site.
Built / Designed For: William Leigh
House & Family History: The architect Charles Francis Hansom designed a church and monastery in South Woodchester for William Leigh. Circa 1852 Leigh asked Hansom to begin work on a new building to replace Spring Park, the Georgian house of the Ducie family. It's believed that Hansom was asked by Leigh to base his plans on the earlier design by A.W.N. Pugin. Hansom was responsible for the demolition of the Georgian house and the building of the north wing of the new mansion, which houses domestic offices and is designed in the vernacular Cotswolds style, unlike the rest of the house. In 1854 responsibility for the mansion passed from Hansom to the 21-year-old Benjamin Bucknall, who worked in Hansom's office. William Leigh was an admirer of the influential French architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc; Benjamin Bucknall can be described as a disciple of Viollet-le-Duc. Their shared interest in the purist Gothic style of Viollet-le-Duc may well have brought about the commission for Bucknall. When it was abandoned in 1870, the house was uncompleted.
Garden & Outbuildings: The Woodchester Estate, which once included Nympsfield, parts of the parishes of Avening, Frocester, and Kings Stanley, had much earlier origins and formed part of the land holdings of the 2nd Earl of Ducie, who put the estate up for sale in 1844. The Woodchester parkland is today owned by the National Trust.
Chapel & Church: The chapel has elaborate lierne vaulting with deeply undercut stone bosses. It's possible that Benjamin Bucknall based the chapel design on the Medieval south transept of the nearby Minchinhampton Church.
Architect: Benjamin BucknallDate: 1854-68
Architect: Charles Francis HansomDate: Circa 1852
Architect: Humphry ReptonDesigned: Landscape for earlier house, Spring Park.
Country Life: CXLV, 284, 1969.
Title: Cornerstone: The Magazine of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
Year Published: NA
Reference: Vol. 26, No. 1 2005, pg. 53
Publisher: London: The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
Book Type: Magazine
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Maltravers family, 14th century. John FitzAlan, 7th or 14th Earl of Arundel, 15th century. Henry George Francis Reynolds-Moreton, 2nd Earl of Ducie, until 1844. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: William Leigh, 19th century.
Current Ownership Type: Preservation Organization
Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction
Ownership Details: The house is owned by Woodchester Mansion Trust and the park by the National Trust.
House Open to Public: Yes
Historic Houses Member: Yes