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.