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Thursday, 6 September 2018

Wiltshire: Stourhead

Next stop on my 'grand tour' was the National Trust gardens at Stourhead. It's long been on my bucket list to see THE view (above), which is one of the most famous of all English garden views, looking across the Palladian Bridge to the Pantheon. There is a Palladian style house (below), built in the early 1700s, somewhat underwhelming when set against some of the splendid mansions England has to offer, though with many interesting objects inside, collected by the Hoare family on 'Grand Tours' of Europe.

It is really the gardens people come to see. Described as 'a living work of art' in the 1740s, they are designed as a meandering promenade around a huge man-made lake, with an amazing collection of trees and shrubs, wonderful vistas, classical temples and follies providing focal points. They were envisioned by Henry 'the Magnificent' Hoare, an 18th century 'gentleman gardener' and his architect Henry Flitcroft, who wanted to create a landscape in a grand style and with personal meaning.

The Temple of Apollo, prominently sited on a hill, provides a focal point, as does the Pantheon by the lakeside. Both are full of classical statuary.

Above, the Gothic Cottage, a little thatched-roofed building that may have been a gardener's cottage and later was used for picnics. It has a fireplace inside. Below, another view of the Pantheon, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and filled with statues of classical deities, including the goddess Isis (see below right).

The statue above left is in the fanciful 'Grotto', a domed, pebble-lined chamber. It depicts the River God; out of his urn flows the source of the River Stour.

I enjoyed my visit and also enjoyed exploring the little hamlet of Stourton that lies within the Stourhead estate. It has a very pretty parish church, Grade 1 listed, with monuments inside to the Hoare family. It was a shame though that two months of dry weather had left the garden parched, with little colour and a film of algae covering much of the lake. It was a hot, heavy, overcast day too, so I'm a bit disappointed in my photos. I imagine it all looks stunning in autumn.


  1. Stourhead in Autumn is well worth a vist too.

  2. Some classic shots -- especially the first. This is quite a tour you're making!

  3. It's too bad when beautiful views don't have just the right weather or season to perk up things. The buildings are still very interesting!

  4. Your pics are still quite lovely, Jenny!

  5. Wow! What a splendid place to explore. You've photographed it beautifully.

  6. Really good photos all around. The first one should be printed and framed and hung on a wall.

  7. I go away for a while and you show up in Wiltshire? Looks like a great place to visit. Nice images.