If anyone is looking for a good family day out, my Mum, my two Sisters and I had a really great day out at Bowood House and Gardens earlier this year.
The only downside was that we had to contend with a torrential downpour whilst we were exploring, but we all still really enjoyed ourselves! We didn’t get to spend as much time exploring the gardens as we had hoped due to the awful weather so I think we will be re-visiting in the future so we can take full advantage! On the plus side it meant the house and gardens were really quiet!
Bowood House and Gardens is in Wiltshire and is currently home to the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne.
The house sits inside 100 acres of beautifully landscaped ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland and has been home to the Lansdowne family since the 1st Earl of Shelburne purchased it in 1754.
Over half of the house is open to visitors, with the family still living in the remainder. The places you can visit within the house include:
Originally designed as a large conservatory, the Orangery is now primarily a picture gallery, containing the remaining parts of the two great Lansdowne Collections of paintings and sculpture.
Opposite the Orangery entrance are the great doors to the Chapel. Created in the early 19th century for the 3rd Marquess by C.R.Cockerell, the Chapel is still used for special services and concerts.
Through the doors at the east end of the Orangery is a small room known as the Laboratory. Here, scientist Dr Joseph Priestley, tutor to the 1st Marquess’ two sons, discovered oxygen in 1774! In those days the room was full of scientific equipment but unfortunately all were sold when the 1st Marquess died.
It was in this room that the great Bowood house parties would meet after dinner to read, play chess, sing, and talk about politics and other topics of the day.
The Sculpture Gallery
Through a small entrance hall at the other end of the Orangery is the Sculpture Gallery, created by the present Marquis of Lansdowne in 1980. Designed originally as a menagerie or zoo for wild animals, a leopard and an orangutan were kept here in the 18th century! Nowadays, the gallery houses pieces from the Lansdowne sculpture collections.
The Exhibition Rooms
A staircase at the west end of this gallery leads to the exhibition room which displays examples of 18th-century and 19th-century costumes. The Victorian Room holds (among other memorabilia of the period) Queen Victoria’s wedding chair!
Also on show in the Top Exhibition Room are the Keith Jewellery Collection, family miniatures, and the Napoleonic Collection. The Napoleonic Collection also came into the family via the 4th Marchioness; it includes Napoleon’s death mask, pieces of gilded Imperial Sèvres porcelain and other unusual treasures, such as Napoleon’s handkerchief!
Bowood’s Gardens have beautiful sloping lawns stretching down to the lake. The park includes the Cascade, Doric Temple, Terrace Gardens and for children, the fantastic Adventure Playground!
Sorry for the lack of garden pictures, the rain was so bad I was worried about the welfare of my lovely phone!
A separate Woodland Garden, which hosts Rhododendrons and Azaleas, is open to the public between April and early June every year, according to the flowering season.
There is an on-site cafe called the Treehouse Cafe which serves lovely paninis and delicious homemade cakes! Plus lovely hot chocolates and coffees which were greatly appreciated after being soaked through to the skin! British weather hey???
Adult ticket prices are £12.50 and child prices are £7.50 – £9.50, and family tickets are also available.
Bowood House and Gardens opens again on the 1st April – choose your visiting dates wisely though as it’s not called “April showers” for no reason!
I don’t even know where to begin explaining to you all how much it means to us to finally have moved into our forever home! If you have read my “On the move” blog you’ll already know the problems we encountered on this long painstaking journey, and to be honest there were several times along the way when we thought we would never get to move!
The relief we feel now we are finally moved in is indescribable – I don’t even care that each room is piled high from floor to ceiling in boxes which need sorting out, the important thing is that we are in and the mortgage is in place and the rest of our lives start now!
Before I start the list of 10,000 errands, address changes, setting up of new utility accounts, wills and life insurance etc, I wanted to blog about this amazing achievement and let you know about our plans for it!
We didn’t move too far away from our previous house, but we have upsized from a three bedroom semi-detached to a four bedroom detached. We wanted to be moved in and settled before we took the big leap to starting a family but we are in no rush to transform it into the house of our dreams – we’ve got the rest of our lives to get it done. The house is beautiful but does need modernising throughout, I’ve got big PLANS for each and every room which will take time and money but I want each room to be perfect and to work for us!
Here’s the rooms of the house and some rough idea of what we are going to do with them-
It currently has a gas fire which we are very keen to change for a wood burning stove (hubby and I have both always wanted one!) and other than adding a stove, painting and decorating and replacing the carpet, there isn’t much more to be done to this room.
When we were looking at houses, I really wanted a house which had a small space I could use as a study. I didn’t want to end up losing an entire bedroom and the separate dining room is too big to lose to study space, so I thought about utilising the bay window space at the front of the house as a small office area perhaps?
Along with the fact that my home office would be next to a huge cupboard under the stairs for storage space, I came across these similar ideas on Pinterest which I thought looked lovely
Definitely food for thought anyway…
The kitchen is a nice almost square room but I can’t wait to modernise in here! There’s a breakfast bar almost the entire length of one wall which we just wouldn’t use (as there’s a separate dining room next door), so when we re-design it I want to make the best use of the space. I had a free-standing range oven in our old house which we unfortunately had to leave behind so I would love another one which is similar!
I’ve already spotted some beautifully designed kitchens in Wren kitchens, along with some brilliant space saving ideas and new gadgets! I have always wanted a pantry and I came across this in their showroom the other day, isn’t it amazing? A corner of the room is cut off and a normal kitchen door put on the front and then bespoke shelving/racking inside!
They also had kickboard heaters which are a great idea as I won’t have to lose a load of wall space to a radiator, and also a kickboard hoover! You basically sweep the floors and then push a button and all the dirt is sucked in through the kickboard and into a container which you empty when full! What a brilliant idea!
I also really, really want granite worktops! They look so beautiful and don’t mark or leave scratches like the normal work surfaces. I really can’t wait to design this room but, due to the work and expense involved, I think this may end up being last on our house to do list!
I’m very grateful to have the space for a utility room (we part converted the garage on our last house to a HUGE utility room and it was an absolute god-send) but I think to call this a utility “room” is a bit of a stretch! It’s more of a “corner” where you have just enough space for a cupboard and the washing machine and tumble dryer, but not much else. So this space is going to need some real thought as to how we can get the best out of it. It does already have a sink plumbed in in there though, which will definitely come in use, particularly when we are decorating and washing up dirty paintbrushes!
Not much to see here and not much to do really – I don’t think we have the space to change things around in here so it will likely be a straight swap for a new toilet and sink and a lick of paint in here – we can probably get this room re-done relatively soon in this case, no doubt places like B&Q will have some brilliant Christmas/New Year sales we can take advantage of!
I really love a separate dining room – several people have said we should knock the kitchen wall out and have an open space kitchen diner but I’m not keen, plus I will lose an entire kitchen wall where I won’t be able to add cabinets, and kitchen space is invaluable to me.
I’m going to keep the dining room furniture minimal – perhaps a table and four chairs and a sideboard for all the posh dining stuff I have…..still a bit undecided on this one!
This was a bit of an added bonus when we bought this house – we aren’t huge fans of conservatories and probably wouldn’t have ever paid to have one built but it’s nice to have this one already here – it’s a big space and always useful to have an extra reception room!
Hubby isn’t keen but I am currently thinking of using the dining room for everyday use and having a small table and chairs in there and then having a big 6 or 8 seater dining room table and chairs set up in the conservatory.
This sounds strange but we are big entertainers and party hosts, so we often have all the family over at Christmas, Easter, Halloween and for big summer BBQ’s, so this set up would be ideal. I think hubby was leaning towards having some more sofas and a TV in here, but it is joined right on to our large lounge which will have a huge L shaped sofa in there….so I’m not entirely convinced. We will see how we feel once we have been living here for a while.
One thing I know I do want which you are going to think is really tacky…. I really, really want a home bar! Not a Pat Butcher Eastenders style but more something like one of these –
I think they look really great! I am undecided whether I am going to add it to the dining room or the conservatory yet (dining room seems the most normal place but would it be better in the conservatory, as this is where we would be seated for sit down dinner parties, and it would be easier to access from the garden during outdoor parties/BBQ’s etc?). Definitely something else to give some thought.
I would like some top shelves for best and unusual glassware and cupboards and fridges below and space for wine and mixers etc – this project is one of the ones I am most looking forward to designing!
I think it will look really effective when it is done and it will also save so much kitchen cupboard/pantry/fridge space having all the drinks/mixers/wines kept separately!
When we started looking for a house, one of the most important things on my list was the option to add a walk-in wardrobe. I have always dreamed of having one, but I didn’t want to have to reduce the value of any house we bought by knocking through from the master bedroom and into a smaller bedroom which we would then use as the walk-in wardrobe (basically making a four bedroom house into a three bedroom).
I thought about keeping the access to all four bedrooms the same but still converting one of the rooms into a wardrobe but thought this would be an expensive project and may be problematic over time. What if we had a couple of children and then one day my Mum came to live with me? We would be tearing out a lot of really expensive work to convert it back into a regular bedroom. Even if Mum didn’t come to live with us, I have an older Sister who has autism, and one day, she will be coming to stay with us on a regular basis for long weekends, so we will need a spare bedroom for her when the time comes.
Anyway, I was upset at first that I had to forgo the walk in wardrobe but our master bedroom is such a good size, I will be able to get a beautiful set of wardrobes fitted around the room which will suit our needs perfectly. Two things I know I definitely want are a “shoe” wall, consisting of a row of shelves where I can show off my beautiful shoe collection, and an amazing dressing table to store all my lovely makeup goodies and Lush collection! I love the “Alex” drawers you can get from Ikea – ideal for dressing tables –
My friend also introduced me to this amazing creation on Facebook a few months back:
It’s called a “Slaystation”!! Isn’t it incredible!!!? WANT WANT WANT!
One thing hubby and I have both agreed on for our master bedroom is investing in a much larger bed! After 11 years in a small double bed sharing with two large Shar-Pei dogs on the majority of occasions, having more space in bed will be absolute paradise! I think this purchase is going to be near the top of our “to buy” list!!
I actually prefer our en-suite bathroom to the main bathroom! I’ve not seen this in any other houses we looked at but we’ve got a bath in our en-suite which is brilliant! In all other en-suites we looked at, they had a toilet, shower and sink – and some of them only had a toilet and sink! I’m looking forward to re-decorating in here and putting a nice deep whirlpool bath in – an excellent environment for Lush bath bomb testing!!
This is going to be our spare bedroom with double bed in for guests. I don’t think we will need much more furniture than that – it has some built in wardrobes which I would like to replace but apart from that and a lick of paint and new carpet I don’t think we need to do much else.
As this room will be quite straight forward to get how we want, I should think we will end up decorating it quite early on, although I think once we have an older child and they want to move into a bigger bedroom we will have to consider re-designing it for them!
This room joins on to the master bedroom and would have been the bedroom we would use as the walk in wardrobe if we had decided to stick with our original plans. Instead I think we will just use this as another spare bedroom with a single bed in for guests – we will give it some thought and make a decision once we have lived here for a while I think. It is a good size bedroom and is certainly bigger than a box room but I’m not convinced it is quite big enough to use as a walk-in wardrobe once you’ve taken into account the size of the window and the radiator….we shall see.
We have decided we will use this room for the nursery once we welcome baby Evans into the world! It’s just the right size for a nursery and as we hope to get the “starting a family” plan underway as soon as possible, I think we will likely start the decorating in this room.
One thing I will have to do some research on is what to do with the window in this room – it faces the front and the windowsill and window is really low (not sure what style they call this?) – not too much of an issue for a baby but definitely something we need to sort out before said baby becomes an inquisitive toddler! Any advice on how to get round this would be gratefully received – I assume we can put up some sort of protective guard or something??
We’ve got a good sized family bathroom which has a toilet, sink, bath and a shower over the bath – I am looking forward to re-designing this as it currently really bothers me the way the toilet is positioned facing the bath rather than straight towards you as you walk in the bathroom door…..strange!
The garden was (in our opinion) one of the downsides to this house. The first time we saw the house we loved the big conservatory on the back but then were very surprised at how small the garden was when we first stepped outside. We were surprised that someone had put such a big conservatory on the back when there was only a small sized garden, but in all honesty, we aren’t avid gardeners and both work full time so a smaller sized low maintenance garden is just what we need.
In actual fact, the second (and third!) time we saw the garden we were pleasantly surprised, as it was bigger than we had first remembered, and to be fair, by this time we had thought about the idea of a conservatory and decided we would much rather have this additional living space than garden area anyway.
The garden is slightly overlooked by the house behind, but as long as we have the space to add a decking area for a BBQ and a pond eventually, then we are happy!
There’s currently a garden shed at the bottom of the garden (which I doubt we will use as we have a double garage at the front of the house) so a pond placed here out of the way of the sunshine would be ideal.
Once we had looked at this house with a double garage, my hubby said he didn’t want to consider any other houses that didn’t have one! The space they offer is perfect – hubby is a carpenter by trade and therefore has mounds and mounds of tools he needs to keep safe, and he is also an avid fisherman and so has an array of fishing kit and accessories he needs to keep somewhere! He also has a home gym which he likes to have set up so this, alongside the usual bits and pieces you need to keep in the garage (additional chest freezer, lawn mower and other garden equipment, paints etc.) means you tend to fill up a single garage very quickly! I’ve made him promise me that he won’t fill a double garage with junk though!!!
Sorry I have waffled on in this blog far longer than I had intended! It’s because I’m excited to get started on making this house our home! As you can imagine there will be a few upcoming blogs about the transformation of this house – if anyone has any interior design knowledge or links to blogs I could have a read of it would be very much appreciated!! All ideas welcome!
Off now to unpack the first of 10,000 boxes filled with god knows what!!!
We knew this would be the year we would be putting our beautiful house on the market – after 11 amazing years here it was time for a new challenge and something bigger so we could start a family. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the whole thing has been the most stressful thing we have ever done in our lives!
The estate agents came over to value the house in the middle of April – although we weren’t planning to move until later this year, I’ve always had an interest in houses and the property market so I had been watching prices on houses similar to the one we have now, to make sure I had some idea of what ours was valued at, and so I had evidence to back up what I was going to ask the estate agent to put it on the market for.
I must have done my research well because the estate agent advised to put it on the market for a mere £50 more than the price I was going to suggest! He suggested putting it on the market for a round figure because websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla have search criteria which utilises round figures, and you don’t want your property details to fall outside the search criteria for the sake of £50!
My request to the estate agent was to have an open house. We have two big and boisterous Shar-Pei dogs who are not very well behaved, and the last thing I wanted was for them to get stressed out having loads of people walking around the house day after day. I also didn’t want the potential buyers getting annoyed and frustrated at the constant barking! If you host an open house then you can frantically clean for a couple of days, then get yourself, the dogs and the hubby out of the house for a day to let as many people view it as possible, and hopefully by the end of the day you will have an offer on the house (or more than one!) An open house always reminds me of America and their attempts to sell real estate – balloons outside, cookies in the oven to give the house a more homely feel, and plastic fruit in bowls for display!
Anyway, a week or so after the valuation, and before they had even been out to take the photos to prepare the marketing material, I had a phonemail from the estate agents saying they had a couple who had been told about our house, they had recently sold theirs and were really keen to come and view ours! They made an offer the next day which we accepted and things started to move forwards!
Unfortunately our lovely buyers had problems trying to sell their house – their first set of buyers withdrew five weeks into the transaction and their second set of buyers withdrew after seven, so they had to put their house back on the market at the worst time of year to sell – the six week school holidays.
We waited for a further few weeks for them to re-sell but to no avail – we desperately wanted to be in our new house by Christmas time so we had no choice but to put ours back on the market and to host an open day as we had originally planned. It was very sad as our buyers had done all the paperwork and the sale was ready to go, but we just couldn’t wait any longer.
The open day took place the first week of September, so still a relatively quiet time of year. We had a few viewings and then two asking price offers so we were really pleased, as things were getting back on track. By this stage we were absolutely desperate to move, and after packing all of our winter clothes a couple of months before, (as I had assumed we would be moving in the summer), I had to begin unpacking things again once the weather started getting cold.
During the time we were selling, I went around the house and had a good think about all the hard work we had put in over the years. One thing I regret doing was not taking more “before” pictures of the house to compare them to after all the work was done!
This is our little box room and is pretty much the only room I can keep clean because its not used all that much! Books, photo albums and all our paperwork are stored in here – I would like another small room in the new house to turn into an office – I’ve seen some great ideas on Pinterest for a home office!
This was our spare room – even though this room is almost identical in size to the master bedroom. We had a lot of plastering done because the whole house was COVERED in artexing and we gave up before we got to the two bedroom ceilings but I do wish we had taken the time to do them both. In hindsight I also wish we had added coving to all the rooms – it looks really effective doesn’t it? I’ve added it to the next house “to do” list already. We fitted the wardrobes ourselves – they were from Very and are really good quality and were also in the sale – it will be a shame to leave them behind but they won’t do too well being taken apart and then re-built again.
We choose this one as the master bedroom because it overlooks the back garden instead of the road but the road is so quiet it probably wouldn’t have made much difference. These wardrobes are from AHF – they were more expensive than the Very wardrobes in the other room but still far, far cheaper than the quote we received from Sharps. They’ve lasted well and I even have a specially built shoe wardrobe which I will really, really miss!!
We put loads of work into this room! The old bathroom was completely stripped out, the hot water tank was removed and a new boiler put in down in the kitchen and then a separate shower unit was put back in the place of the hot water tank to make a four-piece bathroom suite. There’s three aspects of this room which I particularly love – the whirlpool bath, the chandelier and the beautiful black glittery marble tiles. We even put some LED lights into the bath panel for added effect.
What could I possibly have to say about the stairs in my house? Well check out the beautiful bannister and chrome rails we added. The bannister was a set of thick dark wooden planks when we moved in and these made the hallway and stairs look really small and narrow, but the chrome rails really open it up and make it lighter. The only problem with this design? The dogs can fit through the rails and sneak upstairs to the bedrooms when the baby gate is closed….
The lounge is an odd shape – long and thin – so I thought I would struggle to get furniture to fit. When I came across this white leather sofa (again from Very) it was as if it was made for this room! As you can see I am a bit of a minimalist – less things to keep clean and tidy – but this is most definitely the room we spend most time in. Light a few candles, get out a couple of fluffy throws and fill the coffee table with snacks and nibbles and you are set for for the next boxset binge!! I just hope I am able to fit our massive sofa into the lounge of the next house!
When we started looking for our first home I said one of the absolute musts was to have a separate dining room with enough space for a big table and at least six chairs, so I could host my dinner parties and have enough space at Christmas and Easter when the family came over. The lounge and dining room were once one big room so we put these lovely french doors in to make the spaces separate. Even with these rooms as separate rooms I still managed to get a huge extendable dining table in here which fits eight chairs around it.
This room is my fait accompli! It is a good sized room but is an unusual L shape so we had to design it in the best possible way to make good use of the space. When we bought the house, the oven and all the cabinets were squashed into the smaller section of the L shape whilst a huge long breakfast bar ran along the entire length of the room where the oven now is. It was such a waste of space – we pulled the entire kitchen out and started again. We fitted as many base and eye cabinets in as possible and had a huge built in American style fridge freezer fitted into the alcove. I even had enough space for a beautiful range oven and a smaller breakfast bar down the other end of the kitchen. I will really, really miss this room. I think it will be hard for anyone to find another three bedroom semi-detached house with a kitchen this huge! Bye beautiful kitchen!
Another aspect of this house which is hard to come by on a three bedroom semi is a utility room. We have an integral garage which was a tandem garage (normal width but double length) so we sectioned it off and converted the part of the garage which joined onto the kitchen into this brilliant utility space! Room for washing machine, tumble dryer, extra freezer, base and eye units and even space to hang wet clothes to dry – I don’t think I could be without such a space on the next house! Just a place to throw all the dirty clothes so they aren’t taking up room in the kitchen is a god-send!
We didn’t design the best looking garden but it had to be practical – we both work full time and don’t have the time to look after a huge garden full of plants and flowers. Having two dogs made it difficult having grass – it was ruined within a few months and during the rainy months (most of the year!!) it turned into a giant muddy puddle which was then run all throughout the house! To make things easier we gravelled everywhere and it really made the difference. We still had a patio area and a decking area and a small flower bed to give the garden different textures but overall it was a very low maintenance space which suited us perfectly!
The only part which took up some of hubby’s time was his pride and joy – the fish pond! He amassed a lovely collection of Koi Carp which we very sadly had to leave behind. Luckily our buyers really wanted them so I’m really pleased they will be well looked after. Hubby is already looking at new pond ideas for the new home though so watch this space….
I hope the new owners have as many happy and fun-filled years here as we did!! Bye beautiful house, you’ve helped us create some life-long memories!