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Stourhead House, Wiltshire

See also Stourhead Landscape Garden

Stourhead House by Barbara Ballard Stourhead House, a Palladian mansion, is situated on a ridge of the Wiltshire Downs. It was home to the Hoare family for 230 years. Henry Hoare I, the banker son of the Lord Mayor of London, built Stourhead House in the 1720s after purchasing the estate in 1717. It was his son Henry Hoare II that built the famous Stourhead Landscape Gardens.

Stourhead House by Barbara Ballard When the estate was first purchased by Hoare there was a derelict house, Stourton, in the grounds. He demolished it before building Stourhead. The flanking pavilions for the Regency picture gallery and the library were added in the 1790s by Sir Richard Colt Hoare. He is responsible for the collection of Chippendale furniture.

Stourhead House grounds by Barbara Ballard In 1902 a fire gutted the centre of the house, leaving the pavilions unscathed. Sir Henry, the 6th baronet, rebuilt the house keeping all the original aspects except changing the design of the west front, saloon, and inner hall.

Lake in the grounds by Barbara Ballard The basement exhibition area has a display on servants and how they lived and worked on the estate. The house was given to the National Trust in 1946.

Tour of the House

Entrance Hall: remodelled after 1902 fire; marble floor replace original flagstone one; family portraits; tables dating from 1740s; late 18th century wheel-back chairs with Hoare family crest

Inner Hall: created after the fire; twin flights of stairs; 18th century plaster reliefs collection; Rocco pier-glasses

Library: one of Britain’s finest Regency libraries; 5000 books; painted window dates from 1737-1805; Wilton carpet is modern reproduction; 1804-05 Thomas Chippendale the Younger furniture.

Library ante-room: Regency style; 5000 books; bust of Richard Colt Hoare and portrait of him when young; 1764 bust of King Alfred; collection of Italian watercolours

Music room: chamber organ opposite fireplace gave room its name; 1784 square piano; 1730 gilt side table

Little Dining room: once used as a garden hall; 18th century pastels; 17th century German silver gilt and agate centre piece in form of a double headed eagle (Hoare emblem); silver with arms of Hoare family.

South Apartment: restored after fire; still used by family when house closed; pastel portrait of Lady Hoare; porcelain in breakfront bookcase.

Saloon: converted in 1744 from a chapel used as reception room for county balls and concerts; much did not survive the 1902 fire; early 19th century Axminster carpet; early 18th century furniture includes a marquetry commode.

Column Room: originally used as a bedchamber; paintings depict view of Rome

Italian Room: built in the style of a state bedroom; painted ceiling and decorations destroyed in the fire; mahogany card table.

Cabinet Room: started out as a library or study, named for the Pope’s cabinet placed in the alcove; 17th century Pope’s cabinet newly restored in 2007; display shows how the conservation work was done; its marquetry façade is of ebony, gilt bronze and hard stone; considered one of National Trust’s most important pieces; Chippendale the Younger satinwood chairs of 1802; oval inlaid satinwood rent table dates from c1780.

Picture Gallery Ante-room: links picture gallery and main house; 16th century triptychs; two Chippendale sofa seats.

Picture Gallery: paintings mostly collected on grand tour of Europe; redecorated in 1994; 1705 Carlo Maratta painting among others; 12 1802 Chippendale the Younger satinwood armchairs, rosewood dofa tables, two fire screens, three jardinieres; late 18th century commode; two Thomson paintings dated 1773-1843.

Visitor Information

Stourhead House
Stourton, Warminster, Wiltshire
Off the B3092
Tel. 0 1747 841 152
Open: house, daily, March-end Oct, Fri-Tue, 11am-4.30pm, until 3.30 Nov-Dec; garden, all year, daily, April-end Sep, 9am-6pm, until 5pm Jan-end March and Oct-end Dec; shop and restaurant daily all year, times vary according to season, check NT website for full details
Large National Trust shop and restaurant; refreshments and ice cream shop in summer; farm shop, plant centre; large car park, shuttle facilities between garden and house during high season

Text and photos © by Barbara Ballard

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