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Bowood House and Gardens

Calne Category Nature & Wildlife, Historic Sites
Bowood House and Gardens image

Bowood House and Gardens opens between April and November every year and is open 7 days a week. Bowood is the magnificent family home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne.

Begun c1720, the House was purchased by the 2nd Earl of Shelburne in 1754 and completed soon afterwards. Interesting rooms include Robert Adam's Library, the Laboratory where Dr Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in 1774, and the Chapel that is still used for family services. On display within the numerous Exhibition Rooms are remarkable collections of family heirlooms and works of art built up over 250 years. These include Georgian costumes; Victoriana, Indiana and superb collections of watercolours, miniatures and jewellery. The pleasure grounds cover approximately 100 acres, with the formal gardens and terraces immediately around the house.

The House itself is set in the middle of Capability' Brown's grade 1 park. The upper terrace was designed by Sir Robert Smirk in 1818, the lower terrace by George Kennedy in 1851. The pleasure grounds, which form part of Capability Brown's grand design of 1760, contain an outstanding collection of trees and shrubs, all of which are labelled and can be identified with the aid of a tree guide. There are, within the collection, nine champions. The original plantings date back to the 1760's.

Bowood's separate Rhododendron Walks which are open late April to mid-June, depending on the flowering season are located almost 2 miles from the house. The third Marquis of Lansdowne began developing this woodland area in 1854. Almost thirty original hardy hybrid rhododendrons, which were thought to be extinct, have recently been discovered within the collection making it one of the earliest rhododendron gardens in the country.

Families love the amazing Adventure Playground, one of the most exciting playgrounds in Wiltshire. Bowood boasts a life-size pirate ship, aerial rope walks, giant slides and the famous Space Dive. There is an indoor Soft Play Palace for younger children and birthday party packages are available. The parkland provides ample space for games and picnics, the perfect location for children to burn off their endless energy.

Tractor Ted's Little Farm offers lots to enjoy inside and out for younger children: meet friendly farm animals and handle rabbits, guinea pigs and see chicks hatching. Outside children will enjoy the tractor track and diggers in the ball pit.

A calendar of events operates throughout the season with chances to see life size farm machinery and children's activities throughout the school holidays. See website for details.

The celebrated Sunday Lunch served in Bowood house Restaurant provides exceptional value for a family day out, as entry to Bowood is included in the cost of the lunch. The Temple Gate Coffee Shop is located at the entrance to the grounds, serving a selection of freshly made meals or delicious homemade cakes; Bowood provides an ideal family day out! [- Visit Wiltshire]

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