Stourhead




Name: Stourhead
Address: Stourton, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 6QD.
Telephone: 01747 841152

Stourhead is a 2,650 acre estate in the Wiltshire Downs which features an impressive and world famous 18th century landscape garden and Neo-classical mansion which was built in 1721-1724 on behalf of Henry Hoare I. The gardens at Stourhead features breathtaking lakes, grottoes, temples, and picnic perfect countryside, whilst the house provides the chance to observe collections of Chippendale furniture, view rare oil paintings and see the take in the splendour of the Regency library.

History of Stourhead House

The actual Stourhead estate was owned and lived upon by the Stourton family since approximately the 11th Century until the estate was purchased by the son of Sir Richard Hoare (the founder of the family bank) Henry in 1717. Once under the ownership of Hoare, the existing building was almost immediately demolished with a view to designing and building a Neo-classical Palladian house (one of the first seen in England). The following 200 years since it was built between the years 1721-1724 saw many acquisitions of important and valuable family heirlooms which include paintings and a unique Regency library.

Unfortunately, fire gutted the central block of the building in 1902 although faithful Edwardian reconstructions of the original designer Colen Campbell’s creation were made by architect Doran Webb and latterly by the famous Sir Aston Webb.

The house is home to a range of paintings, sculptures, furniture and antiques in general many of which were acquired by Henry Hoare II and added to by his grandson Sir Richard Colt Hoare when he inherited the house in 1785. The art collection of Italian and British contemporaries is dominated by Cigoli’s Adoration of the Magi and the Regency library is one of the finest examples of its type remaining in England. Furniture by Thomas Chippendale adorn the house with the memorable “Pope’s cabinet” being perhaps the most famous piece at Stourhead.

Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare was the last of the Hoare family to own Stourhead. He gave the Stourhead house to the National Trust in 1946 and died a year later.

The Stourhead Gardens

Henry Hoare II designed and laid out the famous Stourhead gardens between the years 1741-1780 in the classic 18th Century style which saw a central lake as the centrepiece. This was achieved by damming the River Stour. Famous areas within the garden include the Temple of Flora, the Pantheon, the Temple of Apollo and a series of Gothic ruins. It is argued that the vision which inspired the garden design by Hoare is of the views of Italy captured in many of the family paintings. He faithfully recreated these views within his groundbreaking design which many still regards as a masterpiece of garden design.

Further into the grounds of the estate lie prehistoric hill-forts, burial mounds and four farms, the produce of which can often be purchased at the Farm Shop which opened in 2005. Richard Colt Hoare had approximately 400 of the ancient burial mounds that were originally situated on the estate excavated in order to inform his work “History of Ancient Wiltshire”. However, many still remain intact.

What’s There

  • A large country house to explore that features important paintings, sculptures, furniture and literature.
  • A 2,650 acre estate of varying countryside.
  • Breathtaking gardens that are considered to be a masterpiece of design.
  • Free parking for National Trust members.
  • Baby change, feeding and high chairs are available.
  • Children’s activity area, family trails and activity packs are available.
  • Award winning restaurant on site.
  • Enjoy the food or drink at the Spread Eagle Inn.
  • Tea, coffee and ice cream at the ice cream parlour.
  • Gift shop.

Interesting Trivia

  • The Temple of Apollo and Palladian Bridge can be seen in the popular 2005 film, Pride & Prejudice.
  • A small scale replica of Stourhead House can be seen in the TV series, Thunderbirds, as the residence for the character Lady Penelope.
  • Parts of the film Barry Lyndon, directed by Stanley Kubrick, were filmed in the gardens at Stourhead.

Prices

House and garden: adult £13.40 (£12.10), child £6.70 (£6), family £31.90 (£29). House or garden: adult £8.10 (£7.30), child £4.40 (£4), family £19.20 (£17.40). King Alfred’s Tower: adult £3.20 (£2.90), child £1.70 (£1.50), family £7.20 (£6.50). Half price when arriving by bicycle, on foot or public transport.

Free entry with National Trust Membership. Join today!

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