One of the most beautiful gardens in the world must be Stourhead Gardens in the English county of Wiltshire.
Stourhead is an estate of 1027 hectares (2650 acres). It comprises a Palladian style house, beautiful gardens, the village of Stourton including an Inn, The Spread Eagle plus woods and farmland. The estate was purchased from the Stourton family by wealthy banker Henry Hoare the first. Henry had a near-derelict house demolished and constructed Stourhead House taking 4 years to build and completed in 1725 and the architect was Colen Campbell. Sadly Henry never had the pleasure of enjoying time in the house as he died the year it was completed.
Over the years generations of the Hoare family have looked after the house, extended it and changed the use of many of the rooms. As you can imagine with centuries of ownership by a wealthy family it contains many treasures, beautiful furniture, furnishings and works of art. The Hoare family bank was founded in 1672, C Hoare & Co which is a private bank that still exists today with 2 branches in London. The bank manages the finances and wealth of more affluent people and is known for its honesty and integrity, principles invoked by its founder and family dynasty.
Although the house is impressive the majority of visitors are most likely there because of the reputation of the gardens that first opened in the 1740s. These are indeed beautiful and impressive and I hope that you enjoy looking at just a few of the photos that I have taken. The House and Gardens were handed over to The National Trust in 1946 and the trust has ensured the preservation and public admission to them both.
The gardens are laid out around the magnificent man-made lake and there are numerous pathways to explore, so when you do visit, try out the different paths because you will come across many views, a variety of plants and some surprising Greek and Roman-inspired structures. These are easily missed if you don’t explore! The gardens were initially designed by Henry Flitcroft but over the generations to others too have had an impact on creating such beauty. The era in which these gardens were designed was when wealthy people from Britain were taking The Grand Tour, which was a tour of Europe taking in the sights of Venice, Rome and Athens, to name just a few, and you can see this reflected in the classical styles of the structures. Look out for The Temple of Flora, The Temple of Apollo, The Pantheon and The Grotto. In addition, there is The Palladian Bridge at one end of the lake, The Gothic Cottage, an Ice House and The Bristol Cross.
If you plan to visit, then it is worthwhile joining the National Trust. Members get free access to hundreds of properties and gardens throughout the United Kingdom and you only have to visit a few places to recoup your annual membership. I can highly recommend more than one visit to Stourhead House and Gardens, especially the gardens because they change during the seasons. Autumn is a wonderful time to visit with the changing leaves, especially on a sunny day. You can see the colours reflected in the lake and what an impression these make on every visitor.
Whilst you are in the area just a few miles down the road on the edge of Mere is Hilbrush Visitor Centre.
Please do leave a comment in the box below and if you have visited Stourhead House and Gardens please share your favourite things about them.