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Gardens and Grounds Manager

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle, Maidstone
£42,000 - £45,000
Closing date
23 Jun 2024

Job Details





JOB TITLE:                             Gardens and Grounds Manager

REPORTS TO:                        Head of Estate Services

RESPONSIBLE FOR:               Grounds Supervisor(s) and reports

DEPARTMENT:                        Gardens and Grounds

Leeds Castle is a stunning, 900-year-old moated castle, set in 500 acres of Grade II listed parkland, situated in the beautiful Kent countryside. The Castle has been open to the public through the Leeds Castle Foundation since 1974 and continues her story as a glamorous retreat and popular visitor attraction.


To lead Gardens & Grounds Team, with responsibility for Grade II* listed parkland, 4 formal and woodland gardens, farmland & estate woodland. 

Ensuring work carried out in line with historical precedent & that grounds & gardens are maintained & developed to high presentation standards.  

Research, plan & work collaboratively with colleagues to develop existing gardens & plan/deliver new kitchen garden project, encompassing planting, operational approach and audience outreach/volunteering. 

Lead on volunteering & community engagement in grounds/gardens.


  • Provide professional Gardens and Grounds support to the Foundation, including Health and Safety, training, projects, programme of planned and reactive maintenance and legal compliance related to all buildings, landscapes, trees and equipment under area of control. 
  • Manage resource effectively to ensure high standards of presentation & refreshment of planting where needed, controlling labour and materials costs carefully & managing to budget. 
  • Ensure that contractors are utilised in a cost-effective manner and that equipment is well cared for, to extend useful life.
  • Undertake research into history of Gardens & Grounds to inform work, building on Landscape Conservation Plan & working with Head Curator.
  •   Ensure all work carried out improves conservation, environmental, ecological and public access value of the estate.
  • Work closely with Strategic Programmes Manager & other internal stakeholders to develop, plan and deliver the new Kitchen Garden. 
  • Work with Audience Development Manager to map out and deliver an ambitious programme of learning, community engagement & volunteering activity, to maximise public benefit, community outreach & skills training. 
  • Ensure excellent Kitchen Garden & Gardens visitor experience every day through a programme of tours/talks.
  • Ensure that climate resilience & sustainability underpins all decisions.
  • Build on Gardens & Grounds Volunteering cohort, ensuring clear workplan for gardening & public facing roles, excellent communications/management of volunteers.
  • Work closely with Falconry & Wildlife Manager to develop opportunities to enhance areas for wildlife, ensuring that public access, learning & volunteering is built into proposals.
  • Identify & manage risks in the outdoors, including tree safety, plant health, biosecurity & environmental risks. Address potential hazards, incidents or near misses to employees, volunteers, contractors or visitors, including breaches of safe working practice, to ensure that all contractors work in a manner compatible with public safety, to clear RAMS.
  • To be key liaison point with farm tenant and shepherdess.
  • Lead and manage Gardens & Grounds team, ensuring clear objectives, ongoing two-way feedback and annual performance reviews.  Identify and facilitate training needs and ensure positive, open communications at all times.
  • To be fully conversant with Leeds Castle Policies, Employee Handbook, Health and Safety at Work, Fire and Emergency Procedures.


  • Excellent organisation, communication and team building skills.
  • To be able to follow Company regulations in Health & Safety and maintain a safe working environment.
  • To ensure personal standards of presentation, performance and attendance beyond reproach at all times.


Knowledge - Essential

  • Minimum Level 3 Horticultural Qualification or relevant degree.
  • Excellent plant and gardens history knowledge.
  • Excellent woodland management knowledge.
  • Understanding of requirements and complexities of working in heritage environment/listed landscapes with extensive public usage.
  • Sound Knowledge of Health and Safety and legal compliance requirements.


Knowledge – Desirable

  • Good understanding of nature conservation & biodiversity.
  • Knowledge of appropriate land /woodland management grant schemes.


Experience - Essential

  • 3-5 years’ experience of managing significant garden(s), ideally in heritage environment.
  • Experience of planning & managing new Gardens projects, including planting, budget management, operational set up & cost-effective ways of operating.
  • Experience of propagation & growing fruit & vegetables.
  • Experience of managing woodland & parkland (ideally listed).
  • Experience of managing a Gardens/Grounds Team to the highest standards.
  • Experience of & enjoyment of working with volunteers and community groups. 
  • Providing an excellent visitor experience in outdoors spaces.
  • Balancing conservation requirements with requirement for excellent public access.


Experience – Desirable

  • Experience of farm tenancies and grazing licences.
  • Experience of grant schemes for woodland & land management.


Skills - Essential

  • Excellent plantsman & woodland /landscape manager. Pragmatic, commercially aware, committed to keep business running during projects. Able to juggle multiple priorities & deadlines. 
  • Keen attention to detail with high standards for estate presentation.
  • Good planner, with strong attention to detail, able to deal with unplanned issues.
  • Strong customer service and public benefit/access ethos. Self-motivated and self-organising.
  • Good verbal and written communications skills, excellent public engagement skills.
  • Effective performance manager, able to coach line reports.
  • Excellent relationship building and negotiation.

The Leeds Castle business runs 24/7 364 days a year, the postholder should therefore expect occasional weekend and Bank Holiday working when business requirements dictate.



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