A LOT has changed since Bowood House opened its doors to the public more than 40 years ago, but visitors continue to flock to see the country estate which has evolved with the times.

In an attempt to mark the many changes of the estate, former curator Kate Fielden wrote Bowood Revisited together with Lord Lansdowne, which looks back on the estate's revival in the 1970s to the modern day.

The future looked bleak when Lord Lansdowne inherited the estate in 1972 as the estate business was making a loss. His own lawyer said he "shouldn't touch it with a barge pole" and legal restraints from the number of trusts which ruled over the estate would cause many difficulties.

Yet despite these challenges he pressed ahead, repaired parts of the house and settled in and three years later, the gardens were opened up to the public.

"Lord Lansdowne felt that it would be good to open it up to the public – partly to show it off and partly to keep it together because it was very touch and go when he took over," the former Bowood curator said. "He opened it to the public in 1975 on a very low-key basis and it was just the garden at first and then a year later it was the gardens, the orangery and the chapel."

Keen to improve the facilities and make the country estate a success, Lord Lansdowne toured other grand houses across the country. Inspired by Ragley Hall's adventure playground Warwickshire, he commissioned a pirate ship to be built in the grounds during the winter months of 1977-78, which has now grown to be one of the estate's main source of income.

Ms Fielden said: "Lord Lansdowne realised that if you did not move with the times, it would fail for lack of interest. The adventure playground has been the biggest draw to Bowood and Lord Lansdowne reckons that it draws 50,000 people every year."

The estate has continued to evolve over the years with a hotel and spa and a golf course and in recent years, tens of thousands of people have flocked to the estate to explore the grounds and house or enjoy one of the many events hosted by the Lansdowne's and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Anyone interested in finding our more about the history of the estate can purchase Bowood Revisited at £7.50 from the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough High Street.