One of the finest landscaped gardens in England, Stourhead shows how man can craft nature to create something quite beautiful. It was developed in the mid 18th century by the Hoare family, at the same time and in a similar fashion to Painshill. Stourhead is probably the more impressive of the two, but Painshill has a better grotto.

The path around the man made lake is designed to evoke a journey into the underworld, with buildings and monuments surrounding the lake. I’ll take you on a clockwise tour of the gardens, starting at the Bristol Cross, a medieval cross relocated from Bristol. From here there are views of the Palladian Bridge, and across the water the Pantheon.

The path goes through a grotto style structure before heading up the hill through the woods.

At the top is the Temple of Apollo, and views of the lake and gardens below.

There is another smaller body of water, the cascade and waterfall, which offered reflections of the clouds and blue sky.

The Pantheon is a small copy of the original in Rome, complete with a hole in the middle of the roof. It is filled with replica statues of various gods.

Next stop is the cute Gothic Cottage.

The impressive Grotto features more mythology inspired statues.

The remaining walk through the woods was a rather pleasant end to return to the start of the loop.

There is also a rather grand early 18th century Neo-Palladian house at Stourhead, used by the Hoare family as an escape from the city. The house was gutted by fire in 1906 but thankfully much of the contents was saved and the house was restored to its original design.

Inside are the typical grand rooms and libraries one would expect from a house like this.

The Hoare family were avid art collectors and almost every wall in the house, included a specially built huge room (with blue / green walls) is filled with artwork.

To end with this huge decorative cabinet, which was somehow moved quickly to be saved from the 1906 fire.

Author: jontycrane

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