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Weird and wonderful Woodchester


Autumnwatch: Bats and badgers at Woodchester Mansion

Grotesque gargoyles leer from on high, sinister owls guard the courtyard and the house is even home to one of the UK's largest colonies of rare bats!

Woodchester Mansion was mysteriously abandoned during construction in 1873 and, after years untouched, a trust was founded in 1989 to save it.

The unique listed building had fallen into disrepair and emergency work was needed to ensure that it did not collapse.

Now a major restoration programme is underway to repair the mansion to the condition it was in when it was abandoned.

The mansion has a reputation for being haunted and various ghostly sightings and experiences have been reported in recent years.

Some of the documented hauntings include a headless horseman, a floating coffin, a black dog and a spectral man in his night-shirt.

In 2001 a group of paranormal investigators said they heard a loud rumbling noise in the early hours of the morning.

They reported hearing something heavy being dragged along a corridor and felt vibration in the walls and floor of the building before the noise eventually stopped.

Rare Bats

Chris Packham and Kate Humble have been filming for Autumnwatch at Woodchester

If you're not convinced by the suggestion that Woodchester Mansion could be inhabited by a family of ghosts then there can be no disputing the fact that it is home to some of Britain's rarest mammals.

The mansion's attics house the roosts of colonies of Greater Horseshoe and Lesser Horseshoe bats.

Other species of bat can also be found at Woodchester.

Pipistrelles, Brown long-eared bats, and the occasional Serotine roost inside, while further down the valley near the lakes are Daubenton's bats.


Dr Roger Ransome has been studying the Horseshoe bats at Woodchester for more than 50 years in one of the longest running mammal studies ever carried out anywhere in the world.

In recent years two webcams have been set up to allow him to observe the bats without disturbing them.

If you visit the mansion, on one of the many open days that are held throughout the year, you can watch the live infrared pictures.

When the cameras are switched on you can also see images from the BatCam on this website.

TV films at Woodchester Mansion
28 Oct 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
In pictures: Autumnwatch filming
27 Oct 09 |  Nature & Outdoors



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