I think it’s rare that I’m left speechless, but Stourhead House and Garden, which we visited last week, couldn’t be summed up in a single word or sentence. I’m hoping that this post and photos do it justice.
With a shimmering wide expanse of lake, which reflects an array of reds, golds, and oranges from the magnificent and regal trees above it, I felt as if I’d stepped on a plane and landed somewhere in a Scandinavian or New Hampshire forest. That being said, I’m glad we have such a beauty only an hour’s drive away from our home in West Moors.
Like most National Trust estates, Stourhead as we know it today has a fascinating history dating back almost 300 years, which we learned about on our travels around the gardens. It’s worth noting, however, that this medieval site goes back thousands of years, which adds to the sense of wonder at how such a marvellous place came to be.
Purchased by Henry Hoare in 1717, Stourton was renamed Stourhead and transformed to replicate a 16th-century Venetian villa. This 2650 acre estate is a must-see for lovers of intricate architecture and fascinating flora alike, with the likes of the Temple of Apollo (where select scenes from Pride and Prejudice were filmed), Gothic Cottage and Temple of Flora. Completed in 1770, Stourhead attracted widespread fame for its design, and it’s not hard to see why.
As you enter the grounds, you step straight into a mini-village that is home to an art gallery, pub, and church. This is as well as beautifully dainty privately owned houses, which line the short road heading towards the gardens.
After doing a little research, I found out that the pub was once a guest house to host visitors of Henry Hoare who were staying to admire the gardens’ splendour during the 18th century. I could almost picture guests appreciating the tranquil scene before them and marveling at each unique addition hidden amongst the trees, which contrasts heavily to the busy pathways of fellow excited visitors today photographing away!
Although we didn’t have time to stop by the house, we’re hoping to make a return visit in December for The Christmas House, which showcases how Harry’s family would have decorated and celebrated Christmas. It’ll no doubt put us in the festive mood and I imagine Stourhead gardens will still be a sight to behold in the winter months!