In FoodNature

Stephen Starr

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Bowood

I joined Bowood House & Gardens in 1986, as a 16 year old boy I remember my first job was to brush the office yard! Today, I am responsible for the formal terrace gardens immediately in front of Bowood House. The terraces are just beautiful with formal beds edged with box hedging planted with Alliums, Tulips and Pelargoniums. Over the 30 years at Bowood, I have seen many changes, especially with the tools and machinery we have available. However, I still prefer to edge the lawn with my traditional grass edger! Lord and Lady Lansdowne steer the developments of the gardens with the help of the garden designer Rosie Abel Smith and our Head Gardener, David Glass, who are constantly looking at ways to improve and add to them.   

Bowood gardens

What do you like best about your role there?

We open 7 months of the year and although I enjoy the peace and tranquillity in the winter, however what I like best about my role is to see the flowers come to life and see the public enjoy the gardens. We keep the grounds and gardens to a very high standard, every day I rake the gravel paths or blow the leaves away before the public arrive. Seeing the park come to life with families admiring the gardens is very rewarding. I also get great satisfaction after I have cut the box hedging, although back breaking, I like to see the straight edges compliment the gardens. I also enjoy seeing the roses bloom, the Gentle Hermione rose is my favourite, and the scent is incredible.

Caen Hill Locks, Devizes

Where are your favourite places to visit in Wiltshire and why?

I was born and bred in Wiltshire and living within the Bowood Estate, I feel I am at the centre of the county with easy reach to all the wonderful attractions Wiltshire has to offer.  I have many places I enjoy visiting, with Lacock being so close I often enjoy visiting the village. My favourite place has to be Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal. I have walked the locks since a young boy as I grew up in Devizes, it makes a great day out with lovely places to stop off for a bite to eat.

As the Church Warden of Derry Hill Church, I have to say this is also a very important and favourite place of mine.

Sandy Lane, Wiltshire

Do you have any hidden Wiltshire gems that you’d like to share with our readers?

Perhaps biased as I live and work at Bowood, but many people are not aware of the lovely footpaths that we have running through the grounds. I enjoy seeing the estate from different viewpoints, the footpaths are all well sign posted and you can start at The Lansdowne pub or The George at Sandy Lane, both excellent places to eat.

Roundway Down

Where’s your favourite Wiltshire picnic spot?

I enjoy walking to Roundway Hill, overlooking Devizes. A fantastic walk and a beautiful place to enjoy a picnic.

Where are your favourite places to eat out in Wiltshire and why?

We recently celebrated my 30 years at Bowood at the The Rising Sun in Lacock, which was a fantastic evening with my colleagues from the House & Gardens. We had a separate room to celebrate and they even surprised me with the biggest chocolate cake! My favourite place to eat has to be Westbrook in Bromham. They are so welcoming, offering a warm country pub with excellent food. I fully recommend a visit.


Bowood House and Gardens
Historic House/Palace
Bowood House and Gardens


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