Bowood is owned by The 9th Marquis of Lansdowne and has been in the family since 1754. The Estate has come a long way since being opened to the public in 1975.
Originally only the Library, Orangery and Chapel were open to the public. In 1976 work began on the Adventure Playground which opened in 1978 and to this day attracts thousands of visitors daily throughout the open season.
In 1978, conversion of the stables and grooms quarters took place. This created the Sculpture Gallery, Exhibition Rooms, Restaurant and Shop, which now provides visitor access to over half of the House.
In the mid 1990’s, the Garden Centre was converted to its current use as Coffee Shop and Visitor Entrance to the House, Gardens and Adventure Playground.
1992 saw the opening of Bowood Golf & Country Club, set in the western corner of ‘Capability’ Brown’s 2,000 acre Great Park. The course was designed by world-renowned course designer Dave Thomas, the architect of The Brabazon at The Belfry. This course is recognised as one of the finest in the south of England. An extension to the Clubhouse, which includes the Kerry Conferencing and Banqueting Suite, Club House Brasserie was opened in 1998.
The Club is renowned for its excellent service and food in the areas of banquets, weddings and special occasions. Bowood proves to be in strong demand as a venue for concerts, family fun days, car launches and charity runs - a few examples of recent events.
The Hotel and Spa had been the missing piece of our jigsaw and now enables us to offer guests the opportunity to stay in quality accommodation in beautiful surroundings. Its stunning facilities provide the hotel with unlimited opportunities. Fishing, garden tours, walking trails and golfing being among our many attractions, Bowood is increasingly becoming an outstanding destination in the South West for corporate days, exclusive conferencing, wedding celebrations, weekend breaks and rural escapes.
The property letting side of Bowood recently opened its latest commercial development, Forest Gate, which comprises 21 offices and business units. There is residential letting of 70 premises within the local area. Letting of agricultural land, in the region of 2,600 acres, consists of large blocks of arable land to dairy pastures, parkland grazing and smaller paddocks suitable for sheep and horses. Bowood is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful parks in the UK with the House, like a well set jewel, in its midst.
House & Gardens
Bowood was opened to the public in 1975, since then over 3 million people have visited the House & Gardens. Without their continued support and interest, the house and grounds could not be maintained in their present condition.
The Lansdowne family philosophy has been to try to provide something of interest for all ages. The opening of the house and grounds has been developed to preserve their historical distinction, but at the same time making it fun, exciting and interesting to visit.
A visitor to Bowood today will see fine 18th-century architecture and splendid interiors: the Adam Orangery, the Chapel and Library by C.R. Cockerell, the New Hall, the Sculpture Gallery and the Laboratory where Dr Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in 1774. There is also a series of exhibition rooms with a wealth of fine furniture, costumes, pocelain, jewellery and paintings on display. Outside, the house is surrounded by ‘Capability’ Brown’s stunning park; there are magnificent formal gardens, a ‘Picturesque’ rockwork garden; and the renowned pinetum and arboretum.
The first house at Bowood was built c.1725, on the site of a hunting lodge in the former Royal Forest of Chippenham. The house and park were bought by the 1st Earl in 1754, who employed architect Henry Keene to extend the house, including an imposing portico, and to build an extensive E-shaped service wing behind it.
In the 1770s, the two parts of the house at Bowood (the ‘Big House’ and the ‘Little House’) were joined together by the building of an enormous drawing room. During the following decade, a ‘Picturesque’ rockwork garden, with a beautiful cascade, grottoes and a hermit’s cave, was formed at the head of the lake.
The Adventure Playground at Bowood was first opened in 1976. Designed by the present Lord Lansdowne and constructed by Cornish boat builder Alistair Guy, using timbers from the Estate, it has become one of Bowood’s most famous features and has delighted hundreds of thousands of children ever since.
The playground (for children under 12 years) is home to a full size pirate galleon called the ‘Centaur’, complete with rigging and a crow’s nest. There are also several very large slides and flume tubes, as well as high level walkways accessed by a huge scramble net. Most famous and popular of all is the Space Dive slide (known locally as the ‘death slide’!). This vertical drop slide is a modern version of a Victorian invention and starts with a
shocking 19’ vertical drop which then levels out for an exciting, fast and slippery slide.
The Soft Play Palace at Bowood was erected in 2002 to provide younger children (up to 132cm in height) a safe, dry and fun environment for their first experiences of playing at Bowood. Located next to the Bothy Bonanza Party Rooms it can be found a short distance from the Adventure Playground. Equipped with a ball pool, slide, spinning discs and rope walks, the 1,500 square foot area is on two levels where children can enjoy
themselves for hours.
Set within acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland, Bowood House provides a stunning location for events. Provided with large open spaces, separate access routes and a flexible layout, the Estate lends itself to host a variety of events from Family Fundays, Pop Concerts, Classical Concerts,
Car Launches, Ride and Drives to Firework Concerts, Heritage Fairs, Exhibitions and Team Building Events.
The grounds of Bowood House are also available for exclusive parties, both large and small, with the benefit of access to the public areas of Bowood.
Hotel & Spa
The Bowood Hotel & Spa opened on May 22nd 2009 and has 43 en-suite bedrooms, including six luxury suites, and adjoins the existing Golf & Country Club. The Shelburne Restaurant seats up to 80 and there is also a bar and two lounges with wood burning fires.
The Spa features a 15x6 metre swimming pool; gym; rock sauna; crystal steam room and aromatherapy showers. A range of beauty and health treatments are also be available in The Tower treatment room. All rooms have plasma screen televisions, internet access and Wi-Fi.
A key element of the development will be its use of a Biomass system to provide hot water and heating for the Hotel and the neighbouring Golf & Country Club.
Timber thinnings from the estate will be converted into wood chips to fuel the eco friendly biomass heating system. Wood fuel is carbon neutral which helps protect the environment.
Golf & Country Club
Set within ‘Capability' Brown's 2000-acre Great Park and the estate of Bowood House and Gardens, lies the championship golf course carefully designed by Dave Thomas, architect of the Belfry. Voted among the top ten new courses in Britain and top fifty golf destinations in Europe by Golf World Magazine, Bowood boasts one of the finest 18 hole courses in the South of England. Superb practice facilities include an undercover floodlit driving range, a 3-hole academy course and two practice putting greens. Golf tuition is available from the team of top PGA Professionals.
Lovingly converted from an 18th century farmhouse, the Clubhouse meets the highest standards, and includes a well-stocked Pro Shop, spacious locker rooms, the Conservatory restaurant and members' bar.
In 1998, an extension to the Clubhouse, The Kerry Suite, was opened to meet the increasing demand for corporate events and private functions such as weddings, summer and winter balls, school proms, anniversaries and Christmas and New Year party nights.
Between the 7th and 8th fairways of the championship golf course, lies Queenwood Lodge. This luxurious Georgian manor house, beautifully furnished and decorated by Lady Lansdowne, is rented out on an exclusive basis. Great emphasis is placed on comfort and providing the atmosphere of a private house. There is a sitting room, dining room and study, together with four en-suite twin bedrooms. The Lodge is available on a nightly basis, and packages include; afternoon tea, a magnificent four-course gourmet dinner, luxury accomodation and full English breakfast. The Lodge Manager looks after the guests whilst the Queenwood Chef prepares dinner and full English breakfast. All guests staying at Queenwood receive two complimentary rounds of golf on the stunning championship course, and complimentary entrance to the beautiful Bowood House & Gardens (during the summer season).
The Estate manages over 70 properties of various sizes and styles from grand farmhouses to gate lodges and cosy cottages. All the properties are maintained by our dedicated Employees. They are situated around the Estate, many benefiting from the outstanding beauty of the Park. The Bowood Estate has undertaken a programme of sympathetic restoration of traditional estate buildings into a range of high quality, fully equipped modern office suites, in a variety of sizes, all set within the spectacular setting of the estate.
The Bowood Estate has over 2,600 acres of agricultural land let out. This ranges from large blocks of arable ground and dairy pastures to smaller paddocks and parkland grazing suitable for sheep and horses.
Coarse Fishing and Trout Fishing are available to limited numbers of people at specified times of the year.
Annual permits are available for horse riders to follow a designated route through Bowood, taking riders through a diversity of woodland, grassy rides and parkland rich in flora and fauna.