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Stourhead Landscape Garden, Wiltshire

See also Stourhead House

Garden lawn by Barbara Ballard Stourhead Landscape Garden, set in its own valley, is one of Britainís finest landscaped grounds. Laid out between 1741 and 1780 by Henry Hoare, there are classical temples to Apollo and Flora, a lake, changing vistas, paths, woodlands, and follies. A rock bridge, a cascade, a pantheon, a thatched cottage, and a grotto are scattered in the grounds.

Bridge in the garden by Barbara Ballard Henry Hoare I was the banker son of the Lord Mayor of London who built Stourhead House in the 1720s. It was his son Henry Hoare II that built the famous gardens.

Lake in the garden by Barbara Ballard The lake was created by Hoare by damming a stream and medieval fish ponds. He then put in a circular walk around the lake leading to the various classical and gothic features. There are many rare and exotic trees to set off the man-made vistas. Rhododendrons and azaleas, not part of the original design, make this a popular springtime garden.

Garden features

Walled garden: in the walled garden is the Pelargonium House, a Victorian peach house dating from 1998. In the 19th century a collection of 600 varieties of pelargonium was introduced here by Richard Colt Hoare. The gardens served to supply vegetables and fruit to the house and currently are used for cut flowers and vegetables.

Stableyard: located on the right are 600 year old chestnut trees

Ice House: at one time provided ice (collected from the lake when frozen) for the house to use in the summertime.

Obelisk: built in 1746 by Henry Hoare II; rebuilt in 1839-40; memorial tablet dedicated to Henry Hoare (known as Henry the Magnificent for his accomplishment at Stourhead)

Grotto: Circular domed chamber dated 1750 found along the path; inside walls lined with limestone and tufa; springs of Stour river flow through the cold bath, location of copy of statue of Ariadne, nymph of the grot; also statue of the river god.

Watch cottage: built before 1785; gothic seat and porch added in 1806.

Pantheon: largest building in the garden; designed by architect Henry Flitcroft in 1753-54; statues of classical deities include one of Hercules.

Cascade: dating from 1766; gravity fed to carry water from lake to lower pond.

Rock Arch: dates from 1762-65; built to hide the road.

Temple of Apollo: circular temple built in 1765 by architect Henry Flitcroft; dedicated to the sun god; views over the landscape; niches where statues (now on Stourhead House roof) were housed

Rockworth Underpass: created in 1765 to complete the circular walk

Palladian Bridge: five arched bridge of 1750; centre point for views.

Temple of Flora: first garden building constructed in 1744-6; dedicated to Roman goddess of flowers and spring; marble busts in the niches include one of Marcus Aurelius.

Bristol High Cross: medieval cross from Bristol (commemorated monarchs who bestowed benefits on city of Bristol) installed in garden 1765 as a feature;

Stourhead House, a Palladian mansion, is in the grounds and is open certain days and times for tours. There are waymarked walks across the woods and downs of the estate. In the grounds are two iron age hillforts and a 50 metre high red brick folly, King Alfredís tower.

Visitor Information

Garden by Barbara Ballard Stourhead Landscape Garden
Stourton, Warminster
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
National Trust Property; large National Trust shop and restaurant; refreshments and ice cream shop in summer; farm shop, plant centre; large car park, shuttle facilities during high season.

Text and photos © by Barbara Ballard

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