Head Gardener (p/t) for the Bishop of Rochester

The Bishop of Rochester
Bishopscourt, Rochester, Kent
Part time – 24 to 30 hours per week. Full time equivalent £18,670 (plus allowances of £3,668) per an
Closing date
24 Sep 2020

View more

You need to sign in or create an account to save a job.

JOB TITLE: Part time Head Gardener

LOCATION: Bishopscourt, 24 St Margaret’s Street, Rochester, ME1 1TS

ACCOUNTABLE TO: The Bishop and those he nominates

RESPONSIBLE FOR: A part time assistant gardener and a group of enthusiastic volunteers

KEY RELATIONSHIPS: The Bishop and his staff

HOURS 24 to 30 per week (negotiable with successful candidate)        

SALARY: Full time equivalent £18,670 per annum, plus allowances of £3,668 (see below for details)

HOLIDAY: Full time equivalent 25 days, plus 8 bank holidays  

PENSION: Non-clergy staff will be automatically enrolled into the Church Administrators Pension Fund

APPRAISAL: Yearly, by the Bishop or those he nominates


James and Bridget Langstaff moved to Bishopscourt in 2010, when James became the Bishop of Rochester. Since then, the garden has been substantially reordered. This has involved hard landscaping, tree work and the redesign and replanting of all the beds. The post of Head Gardener is now vacant. The Head Gardener is supported by an Assistant Gardener (one day per week) and a small team of volunteers.

Also working at Bishopscourt are three members of the Bishop’s office staff.

The Garden: The garden is walled and approximately one acre. At the centre of the garden is a large lawn. Around this, the garden is divided into different areas, including a small meadow, a patio with raised beds, a rose garden and pergola with climbing roses, a gravel garden, a shady woodland area and a small vegetable garden and glasshouse. A large section of yew hedging separates the main garden from a 'secret' garden. This features a brick path lined with tulips and perennial foxgloves, and a large bed planted with grasses and late perennials. There is also a newly-installed 'bower' with seating, and a ‘lookout’ at the end of the garden with views over the Medway. There are around thirty different rose cultivars in the garden, including shrubs, ramblers and climbers.

The garden opens for two weekends per year (April & June) as part of the National Garden Scheme. 

There are also opportunities for an Open Garden or plant sales for a chosen charity, for example Christian Aid. The Open Garden usually attract a large number of visitors.

For two weeks every summer, a marquee is erected on the main lawn, and the garden is used for a variety of garden parties, and usually a theatrical production. In addition, the garden is visited by many parish groups who come on Saturdays for Quiet Days.



Overall management of the garden, general duties, which will include (but not confined to):

 Managing an assistant gardener and volunteers, including co-ordinating and training

  • Keeping up to date and ensuring compliance with current health and safety legislation
  • Pruning roses
  • Pruning shrubs and climbers
  • Managing a lawn care programme
  • Propagation and glasshouse growing
  • Maintaining and renewing herbaceous borders
  • The production of plants for sale at garden open days
  • Growing a limited number of vegetables and flowers for the house
  • Operating and arranging for the maintenance of garden equipment
  • Composting of leaves and vegetable matter
  • Ordering compost, seeds, and other garden related items
  • Liaison with contractors, for example tree surgeon.
  • Monitoring expenditure by maintaining an Excel spreadsheet of outgoings

    The garden is under continuous development, with changes being made to the layout and the planting. The gardener will be expected to suggest and research changes and these will be made in agreement with Bridget Langstaff. 

    Other duties: Being available to assist on the two weekends when the garden is open to the public. Visitors appreciate being able to talk to the gardener on these occasions.  Time off in lieu will be given for these days.

    Develop and deliver gardening workshops. These would build on the rose maintenance workshop that has been developed and delivered by the current post holder.

    Give garden tours. Occasionally, horticulture groups book visits to the garden and you should be available to give a guided tour to such groups.




  • A genuine passion for horticulture, keeping abreast of ongoing developments and plant introductions
  • Excellent craft gardener skills, with a meticulous attention to detail
  • A good knowledge of rose cultivation
  • The ability to cope with the physical demands of the role
  • The ability to develop an annual maintenance plan, and to plan and prioritise development work in the garden
  • The ability to manage an assistant gardener, planning and prioritising his or her work and providing on-the-job training
  • The ability to engage and manage a small team of volunteers
  • The ability to use own initiative when appropriate
  • Ability to work well within a small team and as part of a close-knit and well established household
  • Ability to maintain confidences and be courteous, friendly and discrete at all times.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills


  • Relevant qualification in horticulture or equivalent
  • Knowledge and proven experience of garden cultivation and maintenance, preferably having maintained a large garden to a high standard
  • Competent handling and maintenance of garden tools
  • Competent and safe use of garden equipment
  • Knowledge of Health and Safety and COSHH regulations


  • Experience or qualification in garden design
  • Some knowledge of arboriculture
  • FEPA PA1 (safe use of pesticides) and FEPA PA6(a) (hand-held applicators).
  • Full and current driving licence 

Sympathy towards the Christian faith and an interest in the Church of England.


Standards of Behaviour and Conduct

Staff are expected to act at all times with due consideration for others and in a manner befitting their position as employees of the Church and as professionals, whatever their job.

Health and Safety Responsibilities

All staff are required to ensure that they understand and accept the legal duties placed on them by the Health and Safety at Work Act not to endanger themselves or others and by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to co-operate with colleagues and management in the control of health and safety at work. And therefore:

  • keep up to date and ensure compliance with current health and safety legislation
  • to read and understand and abide by the health and safety policy;
  • to make themselves familiar with accident and emergency procedures on their site;
  • to make themselves familiar with the findings of any risk assessments which might affect them;
  • to inform their manager immediately of any health or safety deficiencies or dangerous situations or near misses;
  • to set a good personal example in respect of health and safety.



Staff must not pass on to unauthorised persons, any information obtained in the course of their duties without the permission of their manager.



Full time equivalent £18,670 per annum. In addition to the basic salary, the position qualifies for the following benefits:

Housing Allowance (Living Out)  £2,631

Unsocial Hours Allowance £1,037

Pension scheme

Non-clergy staff will be admitted to the Church Administrators Pension Fund (CAPF, DC Section) unless they choose to opt out. Clergy already in the Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme (CEFPS) will have the option of either remaining in this scheme or joining the CAPF scheme.

There is no contracting – out certificate under the Pension Schemes Act 1993 in force for this employment in relation to the CAPF and CEFPS. Both CAPF and CEFPS members are contracted-in to the State Second Pension.


The Church Commissioners on behalf of the Bishop have an income protection insurance arrangement. To be eligible for cover under this policy an employee must be a member of the CAPF DC section. Please note that insurance cover is not necessarily automatic and that underwriting may be required by the schemes in some instances.  Cover will be subject to any terms and conditions laid down by the insurance company.

Hours of work

Your hours of work will be 24 to 30 hrs per week (plus one-hour unpaid lunch break). The work can span over three to four days per week.

Annual Leave   

You are entitled to 25 days full time equivalent, plus 8-day bank holiday.


During the probationary period your employment may be terminated by two weeks written notice on either side or by pay in lieu of notice by your employer. Once your appointment is confirmed the notice period will be extended to one month on either side or that to which you are entitled in accordance with current employment legislation, whichever is greater or by pay in lieu of notice by your employer. Should you be summarily dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct, your employment may be terminated without notice.

Probationary period

There will be a probationary period of six months.


The post is offered on an open-ended contract, subject to a six-month probationary period.

If you are unsure about anything or wish to come on an informal visit (which is encouraged), please get in touch.

Email:                    bridget.langstaff@btinternet.com

Mobile:                 07816 828439   

Application forms to be sent to Bishopscourt, 24 St Margaret’s Street. Rochester, ME1 1TS

Closing date for receipt of applications:  5pm Friday 9 October 2020

Please note, if you have not heard from us by the close of play on Tuesday 13 October, you have not been shortlisted for interview.

Interviews: Thursday 15 October 2020 at Bishopscourt.

You need to sign in or create an account to save a job.

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalised job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert