Stourton Travel Guide

  • Another day, another palace
    Another day, another palace
    by iandsmith
  • View across the smog covered lake (Pantheon)
    View across the smog covered lake...
    by iandsmith
  • Castellated gateway
    Castellated gateway
    by iandsmith

Stourton Things to Do

  • Pope's Cabinet

    In the main house, of particular not is the Pope's Cabinet. The 4 m high Cabinet is worth between £8m and £12m.t is thought the piece dates from the late 16th century and was created for the family of Pope Sixtus V. It is feared that without urgent repairs, the ebony and gilt bronze cabinet could eventually collapse. The spectacular-looking cabinet...

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  • Alfred's Tower

    Alfred's Tower is one of the finest triangular folly towers in the country. Alfred's Tower stands 50 m high, in sheer windowless brick, unashamedly built for the view from the top - the ten tiny stair-turret windows do no more than illuminate the steps. Designed in 1765, it was completed in 1772.

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  • Cottage Folly

    On the shores of the lake, is a fine old stone cottage, which good views over the water, I don't think it was ever lived in, but used more as a summerhouse in the daytime. It is only visible from outside.

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  • Bristol Cross

    At the head of the lake, stands the 1373 Bristol High Cross, given to Henry Hoare in 1780. It formally stood in the city of Bristol itself.

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  • Obelisk

    Also in the grounds is a giant obelisk. We did not have the time to get up there, but admired it from afar.

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  • Waterfall

    Amongst the many other features around the lake, they have also managed to include a splendid waterfall.

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  • The Temple of Flora

    The Temple of Flora stands above a natural spring known as Paradise Well. It is dedicated to the Roman goddess of flowers and spring.Henry Hoare II 'the Magnificent' erected this, his first garden building, in 1744 to designs by his favourite architect Henry Flitcroft. Flitcroft took inspiration from a temple dedicated to the river god Clitumnus in...

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  • Cottages

    Stourhead was always a self contained community, and you can still see some of the original, cute, stone cottages.

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  • Palladian Bridge

    The Palladian Bridge, built in 1762, was based on a bridge in Vicenza designed by Palladio and forms the centre point of many of the garden’s classic views. Although purely ornamental, the bridge also serves to create the illusion that the lake is a river, flowing from the village down into the valley.

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  • The Grotto

    On the walk around the lake, a short detour takes you to the magical grotto. There are classical figures inside, including a stern looking Neptune. it is rathe spooky and dark when on your own, although there is also a vista through an opening over the lake.

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  • The Pantheon

    The Pantheon, a gorgeous neo-Classical structure designed by Henry Flitcroft, who advised Hoare on most of the garden's architectural features. It has a lovely postion near to the lake shore. Under its coffered dome is an impeccable collection of lead, plaster and marble statues, centered on Michael Rysbrack's Hercules. Admission to the Pantheon is...

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  • Temple of Apollo

    Included in the garden at Stourhead, are a number of temples designed to show off the Hoare family's education and wealth. The panoramic vista of the garden from the temple is unparalleled, and was once described by Horace Walpole as ‘one of the most picturesque scenes in the world’. Inspired by the ruins of Baalbec in Syria, the temple was built...

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  • Dove Tree

    On e of the many rare plants on show at Stourhead, is the dove tree, which was luckily in flower at the time of our visit. Also known as the hankerchief tree, the species comes originally from China.

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  • Rhododendron

    We visited Stourhead in late spring when there is a fine display of Rhododendrons, of all colours and types. Some of them are also subtley scented.

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  • Stourhead Gardens

    One of the great things about Storhead are the gardens and grounds. The gardens were designed by Henry Hoare II and laid out between 1741 and 1780 in a classical 18th-century design set around a large lake, achieved by damming a small stream. The inspiration behind their creation were the painters Claude, Poussin and, in particular, Gaspar Dughet,...

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  • Stourhead Entrance

    From the car park, you can make a grand entrance to the house, though the castellated main entrance, It is quite a walk, but the view of the house unfolds before you as you proceed up the drive.

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  • The House

    The Stourton family had lived in the Stourhead estate for 700 hundred years when they sold it to Henry Hoare I, son of wealthy banker Sir Richard Hoare in 1717. The original manor house was torn down and Colen Campbell was employed to build the new one, one of the first of its kind. Over the next 200 years the Hoare family collected many heirlooms,...

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  • 'T would be a folly to think otherwise

    The architect Henry Flitcroft, who designed the classical eyecatchers, was the only professional employed in the creation of the garden. His circular Temple of Apollo sits high up on a knoll overlooking the island-studded lake and his Pantheon crowns a rounded slope above the water. Across the valley steps lead down to a dripping grotto where...

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  • The trees

    Some of the mature trees that grace the 1.072 hectares (2,650 acres) in the vast garden. The furthest point of note is King Alfred's Tower which is nearly a 4km hike from the house. Time not permitting, we weren't able to get there but the views, when the weather is favourable (which is certainly wasn't when we were there), are reportedly vast and...

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  • Bridge over not-so-troubled waters

    Stourhead is pre-eminent among English landscape gardens. Horace Walpole described it in 1762 as, 'one of the most picturesque scenes in the world'. The footbridge shown here, along with the Pantheon, would grace more than half the photos you ever see of the place, so well placed are they.The garden is primarily the creation of Henry Hoare II,...

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  • It's mainly about the garden

    Doesn't matter which critic of gardens you discourse with, this is in the top five in England, many rate it number one.The sight (of a photo) of that Palladian architecture reflected in the waters of the lake proved too much for me when I was planning my itinerary. Of the ten things I had to see, this was one.A couple of hundred years ago, the...

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