If you're on your way to Bath or going down the M4, Bowood House is the perfect place to stop off. Discover centuries of Landsdowne family history, endless rooms packed with 250 years-worth of collectibles and fun-filled, Italian-styled Capability Brown parklands.
First purchased by William Petty, the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, (who was upgraded to 1st Marquess of Lansdowne for negotiating peace during the American War of Independence), Bowood was built during the mid-1700s. It has since been the bedrock of a host of Lownsdownes who went on to become notable politicians, businessmen and soldiers of both the First and Second World Wars. Today Bowood is owned by Charles Maurice Petty-Fitzmaurice, now the 9th Marquis of the estate.
There are dozens of rooms to explore, but the most impressive of them include Adam’s Orangery, the Chapel, Adam’s Library and the Sculpture Gallery. Once transformed into an auxiliary Red Cross Hospital during World War One, the Orangery is now hung with art by Calcott, Stansfield, the Psani Brothers and more. The Sculpture Gallery displays 16th-century Flemish tapestries and marble statues whilst the Adam Library is a bookworm’s haven with a collection of over 5,000 books. Each room is adorned with unique family collections which range from Georgian or Indian costumes to sets of ivory, watercolors, miniatures and jewelry.
Designed by Capability Brown in 1762, the grounds are reminiscent of Grecian and Italian-styled gardens. There includes a Terrace Garden, Private Walled Gardens, an herbaceous border complete with a unique waterfall cascade, Doric temple and Hermit’s Cave. Use the Tree Guide to spot over 700 tree species whilst exploring the arboretum leading to an outstanding mile-long lake and stroll through the Woodland Garden, home to hardy hybrid rhododendrons which were thought to be extinct. Children may have to find a bit of extra energy to do so, after uncovering the Soft Play Palace, Tractor Ted’s Little Farm (teeming with farm animals to pet) and the Adventure Playground (complete with a life-size pirate ship, high rope-walks, giant slides, and trampolines)!