Woodchester Mansion, a Victorian country house designed by Benjamin Bucknall (1833- 1895), near Stroud, in Gloucestershire. The building of the house, which was commissioned by William Leigh, a wealthy Catholic merchant, started in 1856 but was abandoned in 1870, without explanation. Since then it has remained virtually untouched in its unfinished state. Now owned by Stroud District Council, the house is leased to, and cared for, by the Woodchester Mansion Trust, which is much supported by the local community.

A mix of Gothic and local Cotswold styles, the house is particularly valuable because of its unfinished state: half-carved gargoyles, an uncompleted vaulted ceiling, doorways that appear to lead to nowhere and walls ranging from rough stone to smooth finishes, coated with lime. The trust has set itself the exacting task of gradually repairing, but not completing, the building, which is Grade I listed. At the same time it wants to improve public and professional understanding of traditional building skills and stone conservation: it holds courses in stone carving, repair and maintenance, as well as the use of lime.

The trust is concentrating, at the moment, on repairing the grand stairs and needs to raise pounds 21,000 to match a grant it was awarded recently by the Getty Foundation. Some preliminary work on the stairs has begun to protect them from further deterioration.

During the summer, the trust conducts tours of the house, held on the first weekend of each month until October: this weekend, the gates open at 11am, and the last admission is at 4pm. Children under the age of 12 years are not allowed into the house for safety reasons but a free, supervised children's club is available. For further information, contact: Woodchester Mansion Trust, 1 The Old Town Hall, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 1AP, telephone 0453 750455.

The Sea Watch Foundation is an organisation dedicated to monitoring and protecting the United Kingdom's whales, dolphins and porpoises. These creatures are under threat from a number of sources - depletion of fish stocks, fine nylon fishing-nets, and pollution - and little information was available about their status or distribution within UK waters until Sea Watch was founded in 1973. During the last 20 years, a comprehensive network of volunteers, dedicated to recording sightings of these animals, has been developed. By monitoring both the animals and the threats to their long- term conservation, the trust is able to keep environmental bodies, government and the public well informed. The foundation must raise pounds 22,000 to match grants from the Department of Environment and the European Commission.

Sea Watch Foundation, 7 Andrews Lane, Southwater, West Sussex RH13 7DY, telephone 0403 731679.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Childrens' Fund is holding its 125th Anniversary Ball on Friday 11 June at 7.30pm at Armoury House (the Honourable Artillery Company), London. The evening is intended as a celebration and a fund-raising event: money raised will go towards creating a Radio Lollipop at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Hackney, and also to the QEH's Children's Fund which has numerous projects in hand. In the past, it funded overnight accommodation for parents; now it buys equipment, books and toys, and will contribute to a new staff coffee lounge and an Adolescent Unit. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children treats over 6,000 children each year and specialises in the surgical care of the newborn, research and treatment of cystic fibrosis and spina bifida, immunological disturbances, gastroenterology, asthma, rheumatology and cerebral palsy. Tickets to the ball cost pounds 35 each and include a reception, buffet supper and dancing. For further information, contact:

Appeals Department, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hackney Road, London E2 8PS, telephone 071-608 6335.

Joanna Gibbon

The Independent welcomes details of appeals from readers. They should be sent in writing (no more than 100 words) to Gazette (Appeals), The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB (fax 071-956 9358). Please include a daytime telephone number.

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