A progressive independent commercial business, created by Act of Parliament. Our portfolio includes the whole of Regent Street and much of St James’s in London’s West End, prime regional shopping centres, Windsor Great Park, rural land and coastline, and the UK’s seabed.
There’s a lot of work behind the scenes at Windsor Great Park, all of which goes into making sure you have the most enjoyable visit today and for years to come.
Welcome to Windsor, home to Her Majesty the Queen and the British Monarchy since the reign of William the Conqueror in 1066. The Windsor Estate, covering Windsor Great Park and Swinley Forest, is a sustainable working rural estate and community with large areas open to visitors to enjoy, by permission of The Crown Estate Commissioners.
The stability of nearly a thousand years of Royal patronage means that Windsor remains unspoilt in many ways - so whether you are looking for somewhere to visit, work or live, Windsor has something to offer everyone. The increasing popularity of Windsor Great Park means that a careful balance has to be maintained with the environment and ecology of some of England’s most important and sensitive wildlife sites. Significant areas of the Great Park and the wider Estate are designated Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Visitors can enjoy the tranquillity of The Savill Garden and Valley Gardens, the beauty of the veteran oak trees in the Deer Park, the thrill and buzz of polo on Smith’s Lawn, or a day at Swinley Forest on the mountain bike trails. We hope that this website will give you some insight into the huge diversity of Windsor Great Park and our team look forward to welcoming you.
DEPUTY RANGER OF WINDSOR GREAT PARK
Here are a few members of The Crown Estate team.
What is a typical day like for you?
It’s a varied job in many respects. I oversee just over 3,000 hectares of forestry on the Windsor estate, doing everything from the basic tending of the trees through to timber harvesting and managing the recreational elements of the estate, like mountain biking or husky dog racing. Also, protecting the wildlife and conservation values we have on the estate, which is really important.
In addition to that we have several services such as Christmas trees and firewood which all take a bit of time to manage and organise. Making sure that the forest looks after itself financially is a crucial part of what the forestry department does, as much as protecting that very important green space and the biodiversity that we have. It’s an interesting job.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
I think for me it’s the variety - particularly here at Windsor. We have three sets of objectives - commercial, biodiversity conservation, and managing for the public - and we have to have a good balance of all three. That’s where the challenge is, and that’s what makes this job so enjoyable, trying to achieve all these things as much as you possibly can. At Windsor we’re kind of our own masters in many respects – it’s down to me and the team here to decide the best way to manage the forests and how to get the best from them, and the freedom to make those decisions is what makes this a particularly special place to work.
I live on the edge of the forest here, and it’s fantastic to be so rooted in one place, and see it day in and day out. I have a particular tree outside my house, in which I can see the changes through the year - when it comes into leaf in the spring, how healthy it looks, when it comes into senescence and that sense of permanency which I don’t think comes up in forestry jobs very often. You’re entirely immersed in the surroundings.
Do you talk to the public a lot?
We’re an exemplary forestry estate, so we have lots of questions about our approach to all aspects of forest management or tree health. We receive questions when trees are felled, and we need to make sure that people are aware of why this is important. It’s vital that we do the right thing in terms of the forest, but the way to do that is to make sure that the public are aware of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
Do you have a favourite area?
There are lots of nooks and crannies in all areas of the estate, where you could spend a lifetime finding new favourite places. I personally prefer a more natural environment. The forest changes through the year, and each season brings different things. In Spring it’s always lovely to see the trees flushing, and looking really verdant when the leaves are fresh.
Equally in Summer, with the wild flowers in the open spaces in the forest and the canopy fully closed, it’s a really dark and interesting place to be. And the Autumn, with the bracken dying off in the pine forests and the trees changing colour, it always looks stunning - and the light you can have in Winter can also be fantastic. All the seasons look stunning here, and I think when you’re here all the time you probably observe a lot more of that. I don’t think there’s any area that’s best.
There’s a place called Brook’s Corner. There is a herd of longhorns there and it just feels as close as we might get to a natural woodland system with the cattle roaming around the native oaks. It feels ancient. It’s a very special place.
How did you first get into gardening? What’s your earliest gardening memory?
I got into gardening through my father who was a very keen gardener in his spare time and my earliest gardening memory was when I was eight years old, helping my dad to dig the vegetable garden.
What is so special about the gardens in Windsor Great Park?
The Savill & Valley Gardens of Windsor Great Park are really fascinating with so much to offer in terms of history, royal connections, plant diversity, landscape use and seasonal interest. They are looked after by a dedicated group of gardeners and are justifiably one of the finest woodland gardens in the country.
What are some recent projects you’ve been involved in and what projects do you have planned for the future?
The projects that come to mind are the recent irrigation and path upgrades in The Savill Garden which have greatly improved the visitor experience. These paths, in particular, have opened areas that they hadn’t been able to access in the past. In The Valley Gardens, the recent projects have included restoring the Punch Bowl, including the cutting back of Kurume Azaleas, tackling the old drainage system which had collapsed and replanting and planting a wider a more diverse collection of plants.
Going forwards, we will be looking at restoring the Rhododendron Collection throughout the gardens, the shelter belts around the Gardens and keeping one step ahead of pests and diseases and most importantly, keeping all the gardens interesting and enjoyable for the many thousands of visitors.
Do you play an active role in selecting plants from around the world, and designing the garden?
As Keeper of the Gardens, I play an important role, with the supervisors, in keeping all aspects of the Gardens integral design in focus. Already, in the short term, certain areas of the Gardens have undergone some changes and there are more to come, including selecting new and improved plants, keeping our 8 National Collections and Champion Trees propagated and displayed for all to see across the Gardens.
My tips of places to visit are The Heather Garden in the Valley and Winter Garden in The Savill Garden in winter, the Daffodil Meadow in the Valley and Magnolias at The Savill Garden in spring. Summer in The Savill Garden has the great displays of colourful borders and in autumn both gardens are full of interesting plants for leaf, berries and interest. The Great Park is simply the best place in the world!
All of it – it’s so varied. There’s a lot to do every day, from looking after the pheasants and doing feeds, to looking after the Red Deer – it’s really busy, and you’re always doing something different.
Is there a part of the job people wouldn’t expect?
Probably - there’s a lot to it, not just with the animals of Windsor Great Park, but with the visitors, making sure that they are taking care of the Park too. There are a few things people don’t realise, like keeping their dogs on leads in the Deer Park, and it’s our job to make sure people are aware.
Do you spend a lot of time with the public?
Well we’re always out and about, so we speak to people a lot then, and we also hold yearly talks for the public to explain what we do, and what’s happening at Windsor Great Park. So we have a lot of contact with people.
What’s your busiest time?
It’s busy all year. There’s always something to be done, and there’s so much to look after so there’s not really a quiet time!
Do you have any favourite animals in the Great Park?
My dogs. I’ve got three of them at the moment, and they’re definitely my favourite. But actually in Windsor Great Park, probably the Red Deer. They’re really interesting, and it’s nice to be able to work with them.
Do you live in Windsor Great Park?
I do, and it’s really nice to have it all on your doorstep. You feel really immersed in it. It’s long days - really early mornings and late finishes doing all sorts all over the park, but it’s nice to be so involved in it all.
The Deer Park. The views are great from the top of Snow Hill. On a sunny day you can see as far as London!
What does a typical day in the life of a warden at Windsor Great Park consist of?
I think the appeal of the job is that you never know what’s going to happen! I live in Gate House so I’ll start my work here – I open the gates for workmen and the public, and I’ll carry out an hour’s patrol of Windsor Great Park. We’ll gather together as a team and have a meeting with the Head Warden, then the most part of the day includes general patrolling, recommending good cycling routes and checking horse riding permits. The rest of the day is open to chance!
Which question are you asked the most?
I probably get asked a mix of three – ‘Which way is it to the Copper Horse?’, ‘Where is the nearest toilet?’ and ‘Is there a pub near here?’
What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
In addition to my role as Park Warden, I am also the First Aid Instructor for Windsor Great Park, training staff members of The Crown Estate. We are part of the team that goes to incidents within the Park and we work with the ambulance crews and other emergency services. We are often first on the scene and so we carry defibrillators and oxygen with us wherever we go. I’ve saved lives, and there’s nothing quite like reuniting a lost child with their parents.
It sounds cliché but the sight of the sun coming up and seeing the Red Deer and Windsor Castle in the backdrop is unbeatable.
Can you tell us a bit about your background before joining Windsor Great Park as an arborist?
I worked for Guard’s Polo Club on Smith’s Lawn as the groundsman for three years, before joining The Crown Estate.
What does a typical day as team leader of the arboriculture team consist of?
In the morning the team gets organised – there are seven of us here so we split off into two teams, decide what kit we need, what vans we need and so on. Then we set off around the estate, where we can be doing anything from climbing trees, to reshaping them, to re-pruning them, or lifting and logging up wood for firewood logs or biomass.
Health and Safety is extremely important. We have to fill out detailed site-specific risk assessments before we start each job, and visitors will see our signs and closed off areas when we are at work. One of our priorities is working to ensure that Windsor Great Park is as safe as possible for everyone who lives or works here, and our visitors.
What is the best part about your job?
Probably the team I work with, and the new diverse role we have – we’ve just started to cover the properties too, which means we now work beyond the boundaries of Windsor Great Park.
What would you say your favourite time of year in Windsor Great Park is?
Definitely Autumn, when all the trees are covered in Autumn leaves.
Windy Corner in The Valley Gardens is my favourite part of Windsor Great Park – there’s a large Beech tree there - about 130 foot tall - that’s set high up on a hill by the Heather Garden and tucked away. It has a really wide spread and makes for a lovely spot to enjoy a picnic and the views down the valley.
Which building has your favourite story behind it?
Not a building as such, but The Totem Pole – it was one of my first jobs after having come from a strictly industrial electrician background. I was working on the 100 foot Totem Pole at Virginia Water lake fixing the lightning conductor in the sunshine. I thought, this was a good career move!
How has your role changes since you arrived?
Within the Windsor Great Park team there are some very exciting developments going on right now. We are starting to work in a new way across the whole Estate. There is much more variety as we are increasingly being tasked with helping our colleagues across different departments. Everyone is playing their part in making Windsor Great Park an even more exciting place for our visitors.
What has been your favourite project?
The reconstruction of Cow Pond – it was a great team effort. All the Buildings team went down there to we helped lift the wood in place for the Bridge and Arbour. It was really a case of all hands on deck throughout, with all the different departments working together! On the day of the Royal opening, Her Majesty The Queen arrived on one side of Cow Pond, and my colleagues and I were waiting in line, eagerly anticipating the meeting. But at the very last minute I was called away to deal with an emergency, and so unfortunately never got to meet Her Majesty!
Can you tell us about the work you do with the properties teams?
My colleague, Rob, and I look after the maintenance of all the properties at The Crown Estate in Windsor, including Bagshot, Windsor Great Park and The Savill Building. If there’s a problem with the electrics, we’ll go out and sort the job.
The Punch Bowl in The Valley Gardens in late April/May. When the azaleas are fully out, it is one of the greatest sights in the country.