The Bamber Gascoigne Appeal


Christina Gascoigne
Joanna Lumley
Bryn Terfel
Wynne Evans

‘That famous charm of Bamber’s wasn’t just a superficial social skill. It went very deep – it was a kind of grace. It was style, yes – but informed by kindness. It was goodness. That’s what lay beneath that golden presence – a golden heart’ MICHAEL FRAYN

Bamber’s inheritance

In 2014 Bamber Gascoigne inherited from his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe, 14th century West Horsley Place. He was quick to agree with Grange Park Opera that we should build an opera house in the woods behind the ancient orchard.

Bamber and Christina have been very closely involved in everything that has happened at the Theatre in the Woods.

We built the theatre in 10 months, ready for the 2017 season. Then came the ornate brick exterior and the Lavatorium Rotundum (2018), then the rose colonnade (2019) and then came COVID.

As a tribute to Bamber, we want to find a way to remember and celebrate his golden heart. Rather than one big landmark, which is NOT IN KEEPING WITH HIM AT ALL, we would like his presence to be felt in many areas of magical West Horsley Place; with a bench so that people can sit and have a think about his astonishing legacy; with a bridge, which like him, connects people; with more dressing rooms for the artists because Bamber cared about people and their talent.

To launch the Appeal, an anonymous donor has offered £350k of Matched Funding, so, for example, a donation of £1,000 becomes £2,000 – or even more with Gift Aid

What will be achieved?

Solar panels & heating/cooling system For 9 months / year the theatre will welcome visiting companies and may be used as a recording studio
Bamber’s backstage A 3rd storey of dressing rooms (which were in the original plans)
Bamber’s bench Bronze life-size casting by Raphael Maklouf, Bamber’s neighbour
Bamber’s bridge by the willow opposite the dock door
A major opera world première in 2024


2022 June – Planning application for the solar panels & engaging Services Engineer etc
2022 Autumn – Planning application for the 3rd story of dressing rooms (which were part of the original design)
2022/3 Winter – Install solar panels and some work on the heating
2023 Summer – Completion of Bamber’s bench and Bamber’s bridge
2023 Autumn – Martin Smith to commence building work on dressing rooms. Further work on heating
Summer 24 – Completion of dressing rooms

What will it cost?

The Appeal target is £1.5m

Levels of support use Bamber’s catchphrases

A Golden Heart £50k (with naming of a new dressing room)
Fingers on buzzers £20k
Your starter for ten £10k
I’ll have to hurry you £5k
University Challengers £1k-£5k
No conferring other amounts – we are grateful for all contributions

Pledges may be paid over three years


For further information:
01962 73 73 73

Tributes to Bamber

Tributes from Joanna, David Pountney & others

BBC news

Bamber Amuse-bouches

Bamber’s Memorial Amuse-bouches


Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph