There’ll be plenty of treats in store for all ages at Wiltshire’s Bowood House and Gardens (between Calne and Chippenham. www.bowood.org) in the coming weeks…..whether you’re heading specifically to Tractor Ted’s Little Farm and the Adventure Playground, making the most of a bank holiday, weekend or weekday excursion, a guided garden tour, some fun at the end of a school day or on a short break at Bowood Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort (just a mile away from the House and also within Capability Brown’s 2000-acre Grade I listed parkland).
In its 40th anniversary year, Bowood House and Gardens (named the Historic Houses Association/Christie’s ‘Garden of the Year 2014’) has welcomed some five million visitors since it opened to the public for the first time in 1975. Here are just a few reasons for a Bowood visit for those seeking inspiring ‘what-to-do’ and ‘where-to-go’ ideas in the coming weeks and months:
Guided tours of Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s Private Walled Gardens. Monthly
Wednesday guided tours on 17 June, 15 July and 19 August (then heading into Autumn with 16 September & 14 October dates scheduled). £31 per person.
Entered through a ‘secret’ door, the four-acre walled garden is made up of four distinct one-acre squares comprising formal borders, a picking garden, glass houses and a working kitchen garden packed with fruit and vegetables. Also taking in the Italianate Terraces that front the Diocletian wing of Bowood House and the Pleasure Grounds surrounding it, the complete guided tour of the gardens stretches out across 2 ½ -3 miles (with seats positioned along the way) and lasts approximately two and a half hours. Admission to Bowood House & Gardens and a two course lunch in the House Restaurant are also included in the ticket price. (The price will be just £3.50 extra for admission to the Rhododendron Walks when open).
Father’s Day fun. Sunday 21 June
Adventure Playtime for Dads. Wouldn’t it be such fun to watch a group of dads running around and unleashing their inner child on Father’s Day? Bowood’s Adventure Playground will allow them to do just that on Sunday 21 June ….but for one hour only, from 11am that day. During this ‘Dads Only’ hour, whose will be the first to climb up into the crow’s nest on the Pirate’s Galleon or clamber up to the top of a scramble net? Will your dad tremble as he tackles a high level rope walk or will he come swooshing down the Space Slide without a care in the world? Then, when the Bowood House clock strikes 12 noon, it will be time for fathers to return to adulthood, play the dad once more and for their children (up to aged 12) to reclaim the Adventure Playground for themselves again.
A family day out at the Bowood Charity Dog Show & Summer Fair. Sunday 21 June
Launched 10 years ago – and having donated just under £250,000 to local charities to date – this year’s Bowood Charity Dog Show & Summer Fair (www.bowooddogshow.org) will be the final one. A great family day out, whether or not you have a dog, it will undoubtedly prove to be another great Father’s Day activity too.
The Dog Show itself comprises family and fun classes, with companion classes for pedigree dogs, all held under Kennel Club rules. There will be several Have-A-Go events in which you and your dog can take part: Agility, Splash & Fetch, Recall, the Fun Dog Scurry and Lurcher & Terrier racing – all fun to take part in and even better entertainment to watch! Ollie Baines of musical trio, Blake, will pop along for the afternoon for a spot of dog class commentary.
Among the many displays and attractions, there are children’s activities (such as donkey rides and a circus workshop), a shopping village and a Farmers’ Market. A number of dog show favourites will be making one last appearance, including the Essex Dog Display Team, Thérèse and Temujin (Lady Chichester’s camels), Joseph’s Amazing Racing Pigs, Falconry displays and the Greatwood Shetland ponies. New this year, for hungry dads and other food lovers, will be the Bake It Big Productions show with celebrity bakers Christine Wallace and Glenn Cosby plus chef Richard Hunt. The dance stage will feature demonstrations and classes of various dance types by the local FitzGraham Academy of Dance.
BBC Antiques Roadshow filming. Thursday 25 June
BBC presenter, Fiona Bruce and the Antiques Roadshow’s team of antiques and fine arts specialists will be heading to Bowood during the programme’s 38th series. Bowood House with its Robert Adam Diocletian facade presents the perfect backdrop for BBC Antiques Roadshow filming with its Italianate Upper and Lower Terraces looking particularly spectacular in June.
Surrounded by 2000 acres of Grade I Listed Capability Brown parkland – with 100 acres of Pleasure Grounds open to the public – Bowood has been home to the descendants of the 1st Earl of Shelburne and the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne since 1754. Bowood’s Exhibition Rooms house a fabulous treasure trove of antiques, artwork and other historical artefacts over several floors. Here can be found precious aspects of Georgian life, souvenirs brought back from India by the 5th Marquess who had served there as Viceroy, mementos of Queen Victoria’s wedding day, an insight into Napoleon’s life and times plus tantalising watercolours and porcelain – all united by belonging to various members of the Lansdowne family, down through the generations. The Orangery, Library, family Chapel and Laboratory where Dr. Joseph Priestley (tutor to the sons of the 1st Marquess) discovered oxygen gas on 1 August 1774 are also open for public viewing too.
For other Bowood events through to Sunday 1 November, visit: www.bowood.org/events