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 that goes on behind the scenes at Windsor Great Park. Here you will get to know some of the team, what they do to keep this working Estate a place we all love.
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 Windsor Great Park team.
Tell us about your role here at The Crown Estate in Windsor
I manage a team of some 50 people including the wardens and the landscape maintenance teams for the Great Park and Home Park Private. I work closely with our major events suppliers and liaise with key stakeholders including Natural England to manage our Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation.
We work year round to maintain the highest standards here in both Parks. I understand the importance of stewardship and that we have an important responsibility as custodians of this special place. To maintain the highest standards, we must understand what has come before and plan for the long term in the future.
Tell us about your role here at The Crown Estate in Windsor
I am Athena Morse and my role at Windsor Great Park is Head of Visitor Development. I have moved to the Estate from South East London with my husband, and our 2 year old daughter. My role is all about ensuring all visitors to Windsor Great Park have the very best experience every time they visit. I have 3 main teams to manage, Marketing, The Savill Garden Visitor Centre and the Visitor Services Team. I also look after the relationships with our catering partners Benugo and Casa Café. I will be working closely will all departments because everyone can have an impact on our visitors experience in the Great Park.
I’ve had an extensive career in Visitor Services, primarily in the arts and heritage sector. I’ve worked for some amazing organisations that lead the way in their respective sectors, from The Museum of London Group, Southbank Centre, and until I moved to The Crown Estate, Royal Botanic Gardens and Kew. In all of my roles my focus has been ensuring visitors go home with a greater understanding of the place they have visited and a sense of connection that brings them back time and time again.
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!
Please tell us about your new role as Head of Engagement, Filming and Events?
After nearly 13 years developing and managing the Visitor business here at Windsor, at the start of the year I was very pleased to move into the role of Head of Engagement, Events and Filming, and to welcome Athena Morse to the Senior management team here to look after the Visitor business . My role includes developing an event program which will sit comfortably in the Great Park, with a wide range of high-quality events . Alongside the events I’m looking forward to continuing to develop our relationship with the filming industry, with whom we have worked closely over the last dozen or so years. Some of you may not know that both Windsor Great Park at the wider Windsor Estate is now one of the most filmed in areas of countryside in the UK. It is now an important revenue stream for the Estate. As Head of Engagement, I’m looking forward to helping to nurture and develop relationships with the myriad of stakeholders with whom the Crown Estate at Windsor is in constant contact, be they local authorities, politicians, tenants, the media, various user groups, and of course the Friends of the Savill Garden.