World-famous 18th-century landscape garden, Palladian mansion, parkland, woods and chalk downs. Alfred’s Tower overlooks surrounding estate.
The Home at Stourhead
This was the home of the Hoare family for generations, serving as a country escape from London. The fashionable Palladian villa was finished in 1725, replacing the derelict Stourton Manor. Over the years the house chanegd somewhat as the appearance was altered to suit the tastes of the day. Rooms changed shape, size and function and wings and a portico were added to the front of the house. The wings were built to house a collection of books and paintings.
Stourhead was one of the first grand Palladian-style villas to be built in England and as such it follows the correct tradition, where the carriage entrance leads to the piano nobile, or main floor, where the state rooms are arranged. Underneath in a semi-basement, lie the ‘engine rooms’ of the house – the kitchens, sculleries and offices.
The greens should be ranged together in large masses as the shades are in painting: to contrast the dark masses with light ones, and to relieve each dark mass itself with a little sprinkling of lighter greens here and there.
– Henry Hoare “The Magnificent”
This garden, described as a “living work of art”, contains hills, water and classical architecture overlaid by a fabulous collection of trees and shrubs. Wander the meandering paths through the trees and to the classical temples, and enjoy surprises at every turn. Guided walks of the gardens are also available, led be volunteers.
The wonderful views and tranquility mean that in the summer, the lawns also become the perfect place for a picnic.
The garden first opened in the 1740s, and was built by Henry Hoare “The Magnificent”. His vision was to create a classical landscape. This was dependent on water, and as suchthe lake stands as the centerpiece of the garden, and was planned before work began on the garden buildings such as the Temple of Flora, Pantheon and Grotto.
The beech, oak, sycamore, Spanish chestnut, ash and holm oak of the original garden were added to with many more trees such as birch, horse chestnut, tulip and ash as well as underplanting like laurel and rhododendron in the 1790s. Sir Richard Coalt Hoare, who made changes to the design around this time to give us the garden as it is today, also made other changes to the design including the removal of some of the structures in the garden.