A FAMILY had a big surprise when they went to Bowood las t Thursday, as they were named the estate's five millionth visitors since its opening in 1975.

The Ward family, from Devizes, were presented with a a complimentary lifetime family ticket by Lord Lansdowne upon their visit.

Bowood season ticket holders, Denise and Ian Ward, were visiting the stately home with their grandchildren Thomas, 9, and Jack, when they were named the special guests.

Mrs Ward said: ‘The boys were so excited and thrilled by all that happened on Thursday; having their picture taken and shaking hands with Lord Lansdowne definitely made last week’s visit one that they will never forget.

"“When my first grandchild was born, I was determined to spend proper time with him and so I became self-employed. We started to bring him to Bowood every Thursday once he was a toddler. My husband then also switched his work towards a flexi-time arrangement. Little did we know that we would go on to have seven grandchildren who would each deserve the same


‘I reckon we must have visited Bowood on over 400 occasions - being a season ticket holder made total sense! It has proved incredible value for our family.

‘Our eldest is now 19 so you could say his childhood playtime ran its complete course at Bowood! Another grandchild is about to go to secondary school which will make it five in total who have ‘graduated’ from the Adventure Playground.

‘There’s lots to discover outdoors and we will still come in the rain! We also head into the House as I like to make sure that they enjoy learning too.’

Lord Lansdowne opened Bowood House & Gardens to the public in 1975, welcoming 18,000 members of the public in the first year.

Nowadays, more than 120,000 people visit the stately house and expansive gardens annually.