I’ve fallen into a Jane Austen novel and I don’t want to come back to the real world.
This picturesque place is Stourhead, located in Wiltshire, England. It is part owned by the National Trust and has firmly risen to the top of my favourite places to visit in South West. The whole estate is like walking through a glorious painting.
With our newly acquired National Trust passes we were looking forward to a day out exploring and obviously taking copious amounts of photos. The Estate is made up of the house, gardens, lake and King Alfred’s Tower so there were lots to explore.
We started with the house. Henry Hoare was given the house in 1721 and it was in his family for over 200 years. The last heir gave the property to the National Trust just before he passed away. There are several rooms on the ground floor that you can look through and they include lots of family heirlooms, stories and artworks. My favourite room in the house was the library. It was so large, light and, full of old books. Which I guess is what you would expect from a library.It also has an awesome carpet!!
Whilst the house was beautiful and very interesting the real winner here is the lake and gardens. I mean look at the place it’s like being transported to a secret haven or enchanted forest.
I always get so surprised how green England is in the summer. In Australia it’s always dry, brown and so very un-green! Here it’s like 50 shades of green across these stunning gardens. I can only imagine how breathtaking it must be in Autumn.
The lake here is man made and the gardens have been crafted to take people on a journey and to resemble Aeneas’s journey into the underworld. It’s constructed like a living piece of art and there are lots of vantage points that carefully capture the buildings and monuments against the landscape.
Reading up on the gardens they are said to follow Alexander Pope’s concept called ‘genius of the place’ which means the spirit of the place needs to consulted when designing the garden. Its principles are used in garden and landscape design to this day. Whatever it is it works with these gardens so well. You feel like the garden has a spirit of its own!
The buildings and monuments around the lake are gorgeous both against the landscape and up close. You can find the Pantheon, Temple of Apollo, Bristol High Cross, the bridge and the 200-year-old grotto. As soon as you get to one of these you see something on the other side of the lake so want to go back over to explore again.
One thing that you won’t get from my words or photographs is the smells. I wonder when the scientist will finally work out smellogram. There is so many flowers, huge touch the cloud style trees (oak, birch, Laurel)and a vast collection of Rhododendrons. We even saw a ghost or handkerchief tree which had flowers (or leaves!) that looked like white handkerchiefs. My better half also made friends with some confident ducks and ducklings.
King Alfred’s tower is just down the road from Stourhead (still on the same estate) and it’s a commanding structure. On the weekends/bank holidays, you can climb to the top. I thought I was fit but those stairs were a killer!! Getting to the top was a huge reward as you could see for MILES! We could see Glastonbury Tor and all over the Wiltshire/Somerset fields. It was one of those moments when you realise just how big the world around you is.
I can’t recommend Stourhead enough and I really can’t wait to return later in the year to see it in the autumn. It’s a truly lovely place and my only regret would be that we didn’t take a picnic (so make sure you do!) to sit and have lunch in style. Obviously, I would have also liked a Mr Darcy style man to come out of the water, wet white shirt and looking all brooding but that might have been asking a bit much.
Stourhead is located in Wiltshire. For a day pass it is £17.60 for an adult and £44 for a family. Both of these prices include gift aid. There is also a charge at the car park however if you are members it is free. The house is open from 9-6 and King Alfred’s tower has limited opening houses (and a small charge). More details can be found here https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead
Like this property then you should also check out these places in and around the South West.