Restoration of Coade Stone Vases

Eleanor Coade (1733–1821)

For nearly a quarter of a century, a pair of remarkable early Coade vases, purchased in the 1760s by the 2nd Earl of Shelburne (later 1st Marquess of Lansdowne) have flanked the main entrance to Bowood House from the Italianate terrace.

They were designed to sit in the niches of Robert Adam’s Mausoleum in the woodland gardens of the park.


Robert Adam design of Bowood Mausoleum, circa 1760. Soane Museum.
Robert Adam design of Bowood Mausoleum, circa 1760. Soane Museum.

In the 1970s they were moved by the current Marquis of Lansdowne to the portico of the entrance to the main house. Here they were enjoyed by visitors and occasionally used as a lace-up stool for shoes.

Bowood House Front

In need of quite extensive restoration, the vases were placed into the care of
Stephen Pettifer and his team at Coade who were commissioned to carry out the work. According to Pettifer, Coade stone, developed in the 18th century by the visionary Eleanor Coade, offers a unique blend of durability, exquisite detail, and the appearance of natural stone.


Restoration of Coade Stone Vases

Eleanor Coade, a successful businesswoman of her time, was sought after by renowned architects, and her work can be found throughout the British Isles and beyond. Remarkably resistant to harsh weather conditions, many of her creations remain in pristine condition even after two centuries.


Restoration of Coade Stone Vases

When Pettifer discovered that the use of Coade stone as a sculptural medium had declined and the techniques had been lost over time, he embarked on a mission to revive and perfect the original recipe and production methods from the mid-1700s.


Restoration of Coade Stone Vases


The Bowood vases are a fine example of Coade’s work. Pettifer found that the original iron dowel that connected the vase to its socle had rusted and expanded, blowing the socle apart. He carefully deconstructed the vases on site and then transported them to his studio at Wilton House. He removed the dowel, pinned the socle together, and fitted a replacement stainless steel dowel. Some elements of the vases that had broken and been lost over time, including two lion masks and some foliate turnovers, were replaced in Coade stone.


Restoration of Coade Stone Vases


Pettifer and his team cleaned the vases to remove considerable paint deposits and other substances before filling in cracks and recreating the missing elements. They then reconstructed the vases and delivered them back to Bowood.

The vases now stand atop two cylindrical stone plinths on the inside of the doors near to where they were originally located. A ‘very pleasing result, they look perfect in that location’ is Stephen Pettifer’s verdict of their restoration and their relocation inside the house.


Restoration of Coade Stone Vases

Restoration of Coade Stone Vases

Restoration of Coade Stone Vases

The Coade stone vases are on view in the Orangery during the forthcoming visitor season.

Conservation of The Battle of Hanau

The Battle of Hanau by Horace Vernet
The Battle of Hanau by Horace Vernet (1789–1863)
Oil on Canvas
60.96 × 104.14 cm (24 × 41 in.)


Discover how we recently conserved an oil painting damaged by water.

At Bowood House, conservation and restoration are an essential part of recognising and celebrating our past.

Severe weather can have a devastating effect on the fabric of historic houses, and heavy rainfall can overwhelm the guttering, leading to water penetration into the interior.

This happened at Bowood when, during a storm, water ran down the back of this painting by Horace Vernet. It rapidly saturated the lower part of the canvas, causing the glues from the sizing and lining to seep through the cracks to the front of the painting.

(Damaged area of canvas, photo by Dr. Cathryn Spence)

Swift action by the curator meant that any resulting canvas shrinkage and paint loss was minimal, but as the canvas dried out, the brown, translucent pearls of animal glue hardened.

Bowood appointed Rosalind Whitehouse to rescue the artwork. She removed the old canvas lining and glue that had been destabilised by the saturation, applied a new lining using conservation adhesive, and cleaned and fully restored the painting.

(Showing water saturated areas of stretcher, keys and canvas, photo by Dr Cathryn Spence)

Whitehouse trained in painting conservation at the National Gallery before going into private practice in East Anglia, where she worked for public and private collections and churches in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. She has been awarded some notable commissions, such as cleaning and restoring Constable’s Millstream for Colchester and Ipswich Museums and an altarpiece by Leandro Bassano from Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge.

Water flow lines on canvas

Water flow lines on canvas


Glue pearls x 30 magnification

Glue pearls x 30 magnification


Whitehouse explains:

It is now standard conservation practice in Museums, Churches, and National Trust properties to fit back protection to paintings. This involves fitting protective material to the back of the picture in its frame. This could be Tyvek fabric, hardboard, twin wall polycarbonate sheet or clear acetate sheet. This protects a canvas or panel painting from flood, rapid environmental changes, knocks during handling and storage, and pollutants.

Small wooden blocks are also fitted to the lower back corners of frames to lift the frame away from the wall, and provide free airflow behind the picture, avoiding condensation on the front of a painting which has a cooler temperature behind it.

These are inexpensive measures that prevent much damage. Glazing of frames is also an excellent safety measure, although more time-consuming and expensive than the measures listed above.

For anyone wishing to learn more about the glue process, please listen to Rosalind’s recording.


The restored painting, which forms part of the Bowood House Napoleonic Collection


The restored painting, which forms part of the Bowood House, Napoleonic Collection, is on view in the Orangery during the forthcoming visitor season.

From Seed to Champion Tree

Since 1972, when the current Marquis of Lansdowne took over the custodianship of Bowood, over 2 million trees have been planted. This means that the woodlands of Bowood sequester roughly the equivalent to 1,500 tonnes of carbon per year, enough to offset the carbon footprint of 300 households.

The Lansdowne family’s passion for tree planting is a longstanding tradition. In 1768, the 2nd Earl of Shelburne (later 1st Marquess of Lansdowne) bought a variety of tree species as seeds from London-based seedsmen, Ferne and Thatcher, to enhance the recently landscaped Capability Brown park. As you can see in this receipt from the Bowood House archive, it included bushells of Spanish Chestnut for 1 pound and Cedar of Lebanon cones at a shilling each (equivalent of £6.50 today).

Receipt of Champion Trees

Over 250 years later, many of these trees are still thriving. One of the cedars is now the tallest in Europe, standing at approximately 200ft in height, and another has a circumference of over 25ft.

Champion Trees
Champion Trees

These ‘champion trees’, so called because they are exceptional examples of their species due to their enormous size, great age, rarity, or historical significance, are easily located in the pleasure grounds and can be seen during the forthcoming visitor season.

Capability Brown Meets AI

Daniel Ambrosi is recognised as one of the founding creators of the emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) art movement. He is particularly noted for the nuanced balance he achieves in human-AI hybrid art.

Based near Silicon Valley in Half Moon Bay, California, Ambrosi has been exploring novel methods of visual presentation for over 40 years. His skills were initially honed at Cornell University when he was enrolled on the Program of Computer Graphics, resulting in a Bachelor of Architecture degree and Masters in 3D Graphics. This would prove to be a compelling combination as his work flourished and developed.

For Ambrosi, computational photography is more than just creating a sense of place. It’s about conveying how we feel about the environment – viscerally, cognitively, and emotionally.
Here’s how Ambrosi experienced the landscape at Bowood on his recent visit.

Bowood, 2023 by Daniel Ambrosi
Ambient-lit Dye-sub Fabric Print
121.9 × 121.9 cm (48 × 48 in.)

In the early morning of 15 April 2023, I set out from my accommodation near Oxford to continue my month-long quest to capture photographic source material of English landscape gardens designed or inspired by Capability Brown. The weather forecast predicted a partly cloudy, rain-free day, which is the ideal mix for generating the kind of luminous landscape experiences that inspire me.

My first target of the day was Prior Park in Somerset, which was to be followed by a visit to Bowood House and Gardens. I chose to conduct my expedition in this order after studying maps and aerial imagery; I wanted to be at these sites at times of day that would present the most optimal sun angles for my intended vistas.

When I arrived at Bowood, despite very much wanting to explore the interior of the main house, my time inside was limited to getting an answer from one of the staff members as to how I could get to the other side of the lake. My online research indicated that this was where I would find the most feature-filled views of the estate; a classic combination that included foreground trees and grasses, water, rolling hills, and the house itself.

While I consider myself a landscape artist whose work is deeply informed by the 400-year history of landscape painting in the Western world, my paints and brushes happen to be cameras, computers, and artificial intelligence. Starting with my digital camera, I capture dozens of individual overlapping views, which I stitch and blend together into a seamless high dynamic range panorama using a variety of graphics software packages.

This particular artwork consists of 24 photographs (4 shots wide × 2 shots high × 3 exposures ‘deep’), although the original capture from which this composition was cropped was actually 36 shots. Using a Sony RX1 Rii full frame 42MP compact camera with a fixed 35mm lens mounted on a panoramic tripod head, it takes me about a minute to capture the entire scene.

Back in my studio, I then pass my completed photographic panorama to my collaborative ‘partner’; a custom image recognition AI based on Google’s ‘DeepDream’ open-source software that attempts to interpret my scene. I can set the direction of that interpretation, but I can’t control the details, which is always a wonderful source of surprise. In this artwork, I employed two passes of ‘dreaming’; in two different styles at two different scales, which is how the intricate patterns (or ‘hallucinations’) that you see are generated.

In a sense, I’m using my AI as an intelligent paint brush that I push to make the kinds of marks that I feel are most compatible with the underlying source imagery. What makes my AI especially sophisticated is that, since it was originally tasked to do image recognition, it refuses to lose the details in the scene that it’s interpreting; this is why the fine lines in the foreground grasses and tree branches remain crisp despite the relatively large scale of the hallucinations in the final artwork.

My motivation behind this artwork and the collection to which it belongs, is to share with others as fully as I possibly can the experiences that I’ve had in these special places, not just visually, but also viscerally and cognitively. 

Admittedly, the act of translating that four-dimensional experience into a two-dimensional art object requires bounds, a point of view, and the use of visual metaphors. But my hope is that the experience of these translated landscapes yields the same sense of joy, wonder and rebirth that I felt when I visited historic English heritage sites like Bowood for the first time in the spring of 2023.

The resulting work is a mesmerising landscape which appears to be an accurate photograph but is in fact filled with vibrant details that reveal themselves on closer inspection.

Ambrosi’s picture will be on display in the Laboratory where 250 years ago this year, Joseph Priestly discovered Oxygen.

40 Years On - The Night Lord Lansdowne Helped The Haylocks

The Story

It’s hard to appreciate just how much has changed in 40 years, Calne’s landscape has drastically changed and so has the Bowood estate.
Today we wanted to share a story of celebration with you.

Yesterday, we had the distinct pleasure of extending a warm welcome to Julie and Andrew Haylock, as they commemorated their 40th wedding anniversary.

A full four decades ago, 17th September 1983 on their wedding day, chance led them to a secluded and rustic corner of Calne following an unfortunate car mishap. In those days, lacking the convenience of a mobile phone of any kind, they found themselves caught in a very troublesome situation.

Fortunately, a fellow motorist who witnessed their distress stopped to help. It was none other than Lord Lansdowne, who had a “car phone” and used it to call a nearby garage for their car’s repairs. Afterward, Lord Lansdown invited Julie and Andrew to stay at the Bowood Stately Home. They enjoyed a delicious meal and fine champagne in the well-appointed guest rooms to ease their distress. The following day, Lord Lansdowne continued his helpfulness by personally driving Julie and Andrew to the train station to continue their honeymoon without any interruptions.

The friendship formed that evening has endured over time, marked by the yearly exchange of Christmas cards. Yesterday, Julie & Andrew revisited Bowood, the place where their initial meeting occurred, to witness the remarkable changes that have made Bowood where is it now.
The reunion between Lord and Lady Lansdowne and the joyful couple, Julie and Andrew, was a heartwarming experience, filled with delight and appreciation. We take great pleasure in sharing this heartening story, marked by themes of kindness, generosity, and friendship.

In the pictures, you can also see the newspaper clipping of the story from over the years.

Discover Our Eco-Friendly Efforts at Bowood Hotel

Are you keen to learn more about our efforts to become a sustainable hotel?

At Bowood, we understand the impact hotels can have on the environment; that’s why we’re continuously working to reduce our carbon footprint and become more environmentally-friendly.

Read on to discover how we’re achieving our sustainable hotel status:

Our Sustainable Hotel Plans

Nestled in a 4,000 acre estate in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, our hotel is an iconic landmark in the local area. Owned by the Lansdowne family since 1754, it’s now under the management of the 9th Marquis of Lansdowne — who’s future plans for the estate centre around sustainability.

Setting objectives for between now and 2030, he’s already been working hard to achieve a sustainable hotel status.

In the last 50 years, he’s spearheaded the planting of over 1.2 million trees, and it’s estimated that the woodlands offset more than 1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

In the next 7 years, the plan is to purchase 50% of our services and consumable supplies from within 50 miles, generate renewable energy on the estate, and reduce direct fossil fuel consumption by 50% — as well as continue phasing out single-use plastics and improve the comprehensive recycling facilities.

Reducing Our Energy Consumption

At Bowood, we’ve installed a 500kw biomass boiler, which is fuelled by sustainably sourced wood chips from within our estate.

This provides heating and hot water throughout the resort, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and contributing to a cleaner environment.

We’ve also installed four rapid electric vehicle charging stations on-site, to help reduce unnecessary emissions and encourage greener transport solutions.

Becoming a Sustainable Hotel: Our Private Water Supply

Reducing our water consumption is an important aspect in our sustainable hotel plans. To help us do this, we’ve introduced a primary water supply for the PGA Golf Course irrigation system, that comes from our estate’s private water supply.

This reduces our use of treated mains water, whilst promoting sustainable water management practices.

Habitats, Flowers and Food

During the development of our PGA Golf Course, we dedicated 60 acres of grassland to wildflowers.

Designed to encourage diverse floral species and support local wildlife, this demonstrates our commitment to balancing recreational activities with the preservation of nature.

We’re also committed to minimising our reliance on external sourcing. So, we’ve made a bountiful fruit and vegetable patch in the Walled Gardens, using the produce to create a range of exquisite dishes in our Shelburne Restaurant.

We also collect our own flowers to create floral displays for the hotel, adding a personal, sustainable touch to our decor.

Implementing Digital Platforms to Reduce Paper Waste

We’ve reduced single-use plastics in our hotel bedrooms by over 90% — and our imminent plans are to eliminate them completely.

Additionally, we’ve introduced a digital guest app in order to reduce paper waste. This provides key information for our guests, minimising the need for printed materials.

Whilst at present our membership cards are printed on 100% recycled paper, we’ll be transitioning these to become entirely digital, too, further supporting our efforts to become a fully-sustainable hotel.

Reduced Farmland Practices

At Bowood, we’re fortunate to have over 700 acres of permanent pasture, which is predominantly grazed by sheep.

This ensures our farmland practices are low or zero, helping to preserve the landscape and reduce our reliance on fossil-fuelled machinery.

Having come so far already in becoming a sustainable hotel, we’re excited for our future plans and further implementations of greener solutions.

To find out more about our estate, please contact a member of our team.

Alternatively, why not read our previous blog to discover more about our beautiful grounds and gardens?

Your Event in Wiltshire

Are you looking for an idyllic location to host your special occasion?

Whether it’s an intimate birthday gathering or a showstopping wedding, Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort offers a stunning venue for all celebrations.

Keep reading to discover why our estate is the perfect place to host events in Wiltshire

Why Choose Bowood for your event in wiltshire?

When it comes to planning events in Wiltshire, there are lots of factors to consider, including food, accommodation and capacity.

At Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, we can cater for all your needs, with tailored celebration packages and plenty of options for making your vision a reality.

Just a few of the reasons why Bowood is the idyllic destination for events in Wiltshire include our:
Rolling countryside setting;
Breathtaking, expansive grounds;
Exquisite dining experiences;
Multitude of rooms and event spaces;
Dedicated staff on hand to bring it all together.

Versatile Rooms and Spaces for Every Occasion

At Bowood, we offer a selection of private rooms that can accommodate up to 160 guests, providing a comfortable and elegant setting for your special event.

Additionally, we have 43 opulent bedrooms available for your guests to stay overnight, ensuring a seamless and convenient experience.

One of our most sought-after event spaces is the superior Kerry Suite, which features its own fully-licensed bar, an exceptional culinary team, and a sophisticated backdrop that is certain to impress your guests.

If you’re seeking an outdoor wedding ceremony, our beautiful pavilion offers a stunning setting against the picturesque Bowood Estate.

Our talented culinary team will work closely with you to plan a bespoke menu, whether you prefer a hot or cold buffet, an elegant afternoon tea, or a sit-down dinner.

Inject a Little Personality in to Your Event

We have a range of decor that we can use to dress your event, but we’re also more than happy to accommodate any outsourced items, such as floral arrangements.

We understand the importance of injecting your personality into your celebration, ensuring it’s unique to you and your guests. So, our dedicated teams will work closely with you to capture your ideas and help bring them to life.

Additionally, we have a carefully-curated list of trusted local businesses that we collaborate with, including florists, transportation services, cake designers, and photographers. With our network of reliable suppliers, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that every aspect of your event is in capable hands.

Indulge in Our Luxury Catering Choices

Our highly skilled chefs will prepare an exquisite dining experience for your celebration — for up to 160 guests.

Our spacious, luxury rooms are the perfect spot for you to indulge in a sumptuous afternoon tea or delectable buffet lunch, or even host an elegant canape reception.

No matter how big or small your event, we’ll ensure every detail is planned with precision and perfection, promising a memorable experience for both you and your guests.

We’re here to assist you every step of the way, from initial consultations to the seamless execution of your event. To speak to our dedicated wedding team or to inquire about hosting other events in Wiltshire, please get in touch.

Alternatively, why not read our previous blog to discover our favourite Bowood walks?

Our Hotel In Calne

Why Bowood is the Perfect Summer Destination

If you’re looking for a memorable escape this summer, why not book a last-minute break at our Bowood Hotel in Calne?

A paradise of relaxation, adventure, and indulgence, it’s an idyllic destination; discover secluded gardens, comfortable rooms, and delightful dining options…

Explore Our Secluded Gardens & Walks In Calne

Nestled within 2,000 acres of captivating parkland and enchanting gardens, Bowood Hotel sets the stage for a tranquil and rejuvenating summer retreat.

Wander through our secluded gardens, blooming with vibrant flowers and scented shrubs, or take a moment to breathe in the fresh air and reflect on the peace our little haven offers.

Golfing Paradise: Swing into Summer Fun

Our luxury hotel in Calne boasts an 18-hole PGA Golf Course that will delight players of all levels.

Set against a breathtaking Wiltshire backdrop, our golf course will challenge your skills while allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the outdoors.

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just starting out, we can promise you an unforgettable golfing experience. So, why not challenge your loved ones to a round (or two) before dinner?

Delightful Afternoon Tea at Our Hotel in Calne

Enhance your summer stay with a quintessential afternoon tea.

Offering a refined and flavourful experience, our tea comprises an array of delectable finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of sweet treats.

You can then choose from a selection of fine teas or, for the ultimate celebration, why not opt for a chilled glass of Champagne?

Explore Wiltshire's Treasures

Your summer getaway wouldn’t be complete without exploring the historical treasures of Wiltshire!

A short distance from the historic city of Bath, embrace the history and culture of our surroundings and discover the breathtaking Roman baths and Georgian architecture.

Alternatively, why not visit the National Trust treasure, Avebury Henge, where you can marvel at Britain’s largest mysterious stone circle?

Book a Spa Experience at Our Hotel in Calne

There’s no need to head back to reality anytime soon! Why not extend your stay by a day or two to take advantage of our indulgent spa?

Sink into the depths of our warm and inviting pool, stretch out on our comfortable loungers, and treat yourself to a selection of revitalising treatments.

We have an extensive menu of rejuvenating therapies, each designed to help you feel your very best self this summer; let all your stresses melt away as our skilled therapists ease out the tension in your neck with a deep tissue massage, or reignite your glow with an exfoliating facial.

Whatever relaxation looks like for you, we can help make it happen here at our Bowood Spa.

Stay in Our Comfortable Rooms

After a day of exploration, relaxation and indulgent treats, we recommend unwinding in one of our comfortable yet elegant rooms.

Each space exudes sophistication, whilst our luxury soft furnishings ensure a restful night’s sleep.

Choose from a variety of room types, from cosy chambers to opulent suites, and wake up to stunning views of our surrounding landscapes; the perfect setting for your summer getaway.

The perfect escape, please get in touch to book a summer break at our hotel in Calne.

Alternatively, why not read our previous blog to discover more about our Capability Brown gardens?