Stourhead in Wiltshire is world renowned garden. Like many of our great gardens now part of the National Trust.
Unlike many grand gardens, the centrepiece in the man made lake. Visitors follow the circular lake path, in and out of plantings, changing direction to expose new vistas. It’s a variation on the classic English landscape style of garden but here replacing grass for water with a strong Italian influence. Various classical buildings provide focal points as you follow the path, these include;
Inspired by the Italian original, it contain a number of statues.
In Italy’s grand gardens, Grottos provide shelter from the hot sun in which to entertain. In our climate they were perhaps more likely to shelter from the rain.
Another of the classical ornamental buildings, it has a commanding view of the lake.
The small beautifully formed Palladian style bridge adds realism to the goal of making the lake look natural.
The garden is worth a visit any time of the year. It is a spectacular place to see the Autumn colours, better still if the sun is shining.
Unlike many NT properties, the House here is only a supporting attraction. What we see to today, is a rebuild to the original design after a serious fire in 1902. Chippendale furniture and paintings are on show.
The Hoare family acquired the estate in the early 1700’s owning it for over two hundred years. A wealthy banking family, like many they used buildings, art and gardens to display their culture and riches. We can thank Henry Hoare the Second for today’s garden. The work started in 1740 and took nearly forty years to finish. A small river being transformed into a large lake. Over the years further building (ornaments) were added and removed.
Having no heir, his son was killed in action in Word War One. Sir Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare donated the house and garden to the National Trust.
Being a larger and popular NT property, it has the full package of tea rooms and shops. The nearest small town is Mere off the A303 trunk road. If you like it so much that you want to stay, then there is a holiday cottage on the estate.