Culture

Stourhead House & Garden, Somerset

One of the first new Palladian-style country villas to be built, Stourhead first opened its doors in the 1750’s and has been at the centre of artistic vision and creativity since. Under the instruction of Henry Hoare I the house was designed by Colen Campbell and built by Nathaniel Ireson between 1721 and 1725.

Although Henry Hoare I was unable to reap the full benefits of his work, dying the same year the house was completed, Stourhead remained in the Hoare family for over 200 years until 1946. Now under the careful wing of the National Trust, the house and grounds are open to the public to be enjoyed by all.

With many members of the Hoare family keen collectors of heirlooms, artefacts and books, the house is awash with intriguing pieces. Having undergone several transformations in the hands of different family members, Stourhead is a real expression of personality and innovation, and offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into both its history and personal legacy.

Perhaps one of the most striking features of the house is its gardens. World-famous, the gardens have been described as ‘a living work of art’ and, true to Henry Hoare II’s plans, feature water at the core. Incorporating hills, classical architecture, trees, plants and shrubs surrounding a huge artificial lake, the gardens are a breath-taking masterpiece, combining raw imagination with the natural world.

To take in the gardens’ beauty, paths weave their way around the site. Evocative of Pope’s "genius of the place" following the gardens leads visitors on a journey, with beautiful vistas opening up and monuments framing views and other monuments.

Whatever time of year beckons you to the area, a visit to Stourhead will never fail to captivate. Walks of varying lengths are available, as well as the chance to explore the house itself. A restaurant with seasonal opening hours provides welcome refreshments and the grounds are dog-friendly, although certain restrictions are in place.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Somerset here.

Stourhead, Stourton, Warminster BA12 6QF | 01747 841152 | www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

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