A visitor’s guide to Woodchester
PUBLISHED: 15:25 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:25 17 April 2019
We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you to get the most from your visit to Woodchester, sponsored by Sofas & Stuff
Sofas & Stuff | Sales: 0808 1783211 | sofasandstuff.com
Woodchester is every bit the picturesque English village, with its single track High Street and higgledy-piggledy houses to the south, and newer buildings in the north. Its splendid Cotswold stone buildings simply ooze charm, but in a quiet understated manner rather than with millstones and grit. Equidistant from Stroud and Nailsworth, the village offers a country base from which to explore Gloucestershire's rolling countryside, ancient meadows and woodlands, as well as some interesting buildings and stories.
Most noted for...Woodchester Mansion – an abandoned manor that has featured on ghost-hunting programmes such as Most Haunted.
While you're here...take a selfie next to the double roundhouse at Frogmarsh, which may have been a store for the teasels, and a wool drying stove. Another roundhouse survives in nearby Chalford.
But try not to...go bats in Woodchester. The area is a haven for ten different species, including rare colonies of greater and lesser horseshoe bats, which roost at Woodchester Mansion while raising their young. Bat cameras spotted over 800 at the house last summer and there are further roosts in the boathouse.
Woodchester's parish church of St Mary's was designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon, the 19th century architect who specialised in the Gothic Revival style and was known to work with Prince Albert, and John Adey Repton is believed to have designed the boathouse at Woodchester Park.
Woodchester Mansion and Park
The construction of this grand Gothic Revival house was abandoned in the 19th century when the owner – formerly enormously wealthy – mysteriously ran out of money. A Georgian country mansion had been demolished to make way for the 'new build' of its time, but when this was left incomplete the shell was left with a forlorn, and some would say spooky, air. Woodchester Mansion Trust celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019. Over the years it has raised about £850,000 for major phases of work, with an estimated £4million still needed to complete the project.
Woodchester Park, with its woodlands and boathouse, was bought by the National Trust in 1994 – 25 years ago. The once landscaped park and garden were overgrown as a result of a commercial forestry plantation, which had choked some of its finer features, including an ornate boathouse. The garden, with its terraced walks, is slowly being returned to glory and eventually the trust hopes to reopen it to visitors. In the meantime, there's a family play trail with waymarked walks through the park, and a three-mile boathouse walk around the lake.
Roman villa and mosaic
A grand Roman villa found at Woodchester was likely to have been inhabited between the second and fourth centuries. Though most of the villa is long gone, a stunningly intricate mosaic pavement depicting the tragic Greek figure Orpheus charming the world with his lyre was uncovered during the last century. To save it from destruction, the beautiful work of art was reburied, but reproductions and images capturing its design and delicacy still exist.
With a highly regarded cordial company and a separate vineyard, Woodchester seems to have a well stocked drinks cabinet.
Woodchester Valley Vineyard was founded by the Shiner family in 2007, and they now produce white, rosé and sparkling Cotswold wines. They established their own winery in 2016 at their Woodchester farm where they press grapes grown at all three of their vineyards. Tours and tastings, as well as other events, can be booked through the company's website and wines bought at the Woodchester Valley shop on the A46 from Tuesday to Saturday, at the company's stall at Stroud Farmers' market on the second Saturday of the month, or through local stockists.
Bottlegreen Drinks cordial company, based in Frogmarsh Mills, South Woodchester, was founded by Kit and Shireen Morris in 1989. The couple had a background in winemaking which they used to develop the cold filtration process. In 2011 the business was sold to SHS, but 30 years on, Bottlegreen is still based in Woodchester.
Move here for...
And get: A five bedroom, two bathroom Edwardian house ripe for an update, with a sweeping drive and double garage, an acre of land and views over the surrounding countryside.
Eat at: The Old Fleece
Why? This charming 250-year-old coaching house on Rooksmoor Hill oozes rustic charm, and the owners farm Grigshot Orchard next door, so some of the produce is farm to fork.
Drink at: The Royal Oak
Why? This north Woodchester pub has a wide selection of beers, wines and soft drinks, as well as running a guest list of local ales and ciders. Keep a look out for special music nights.
Stay at: Woodchester Vineyard barn
Why? The vineyard has three separate guestrooms in the barn, all ensuite, with terraces overlooking the vineyard or Stroud Valley. A separate farmhouse is also available for self-catering.