Stowe House

Stowe House

Stowe House is a Grade I listed country house located in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England. It is the home of Stowe School, an independent school. The Gardens (known as Stowe Landscape Gardens), along with part of the Park, passed into the ownership of The National Trust in 1990 and are open to the public.


John Temple bought the manor of Stowe in 1589 and it became the family home for the Temple family. In the late 17th century, the house was completely rebuilt by Sir Richard Temple, from the old medieval stronghold to what is now the core of the impressive mansion for which the area is known today. Having been redesigned and perfected subsequently over the years, the whole front is now convert|916|ft|m in length and is a breathtaking sight as you approach from the direction of Buckingham. The long, straight driveway that ran from Buckingham all the way to the front of the house, passing through a 60 foot (18 m) Corinthian arch on the brow of the hill on the way, made for a breathtaking approach that was very humbling and intimidating for visitors to the house. The driveway approach to the house is still in use today.

The House

The architectural history

The House is the result of four main periods of development [ pages 11-13, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] these are:

* 1677-1683 under Sir Richard Temple, this involved the building of the central block.
* 1720s-1733 under Viscount Cobham, including the addition of the North Portico by Vanbrugh and the rebuilding of the north, east and west fronts.
* 1740s-1760 under Viscount Cobham, the expansion of the both the western and eastern state apartments.
* 1771-1779 under Earl Temple, in 1771 Robert Adam produced a new design for the south front, this design was adapted and made more uniform by Thomas Pitt and was finished in 1779. The interiors of the new state apartments were not completed until 1788.

The exterior of the House has not been significantly changed since 1779. However some interiors have been altered, the Marquess of Buckingham in 1793 converted "The East Gallery" into "The Large Library" and in the first decade of the 19th century on the ground floor created the "Gothic Library" to the designs of Sir John Soane a rare example of Soane using the Gothic style. Also at this time the "Egyptian Hall" was added beneath the "North Portico" as a secondary entrance.

The south facade

The showpiece of the House is the south facade overlooking the Gardens. This is one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in Britain. The main front stretches over convert|460|ft|m. Divided into five major sections, these are: the central block around convert|130|ft|m in width, the lower linking sections convert|75|ft|m wide that contain on the west the State Dining Room and on the east The Large Library, then at the ends the two pavilions the same height as the central block about convert|90|ft|m in width. The central block and the end pavilions are articulated at piano nobile level with unfluted Corinthian pilasters over convert|35|ft|m tall which becomes a hexastyle portico supporting a pediment in the middle of the facade, there is a minor order of 48 Ionic columns over convert|20|ft|m high that runs the length of the facade. The portico fronts a loggia that contains the doorway to the Marble Saloon, this is flanked by large niches that used to contain statues, above is a large freize on a Bacchic theme. There is a flight of thirty three steps the full width of the portico which descends to the South Lawn. The staircase has solid parapets either side that end in sculptures of lions, 1927 replacements for the original bronze lions that were of a slightly larger scale. Either side of the portico are two tripartite windows separated and flanked by Ionic columns, these are enclosed with an arch that contains a carved Portland stone tondo in the tympanum with carvings of The four seasons, and is in turn flanked by twin Corinthian pilasters the same size as the columns of the portico. The facade is surmounted by a balustraded parapet, in the centre of the parapet of the east pavilion is a sculpture of two reclining figures of Ceres and Flora the corresponding figures on the west pavilion are of Liberty and Religion. The end pavilions each have three tripartite windows matching those on the central block, the tondos of which are each carved with a sacrificial scene.

The major interiors

During the sale of 1921-22 all the furnishing and art works were sold, as were several fittings including chimneypieces. Some of the family portraits and other items associated with the house have been bought back and are now on display in the House.

The major rooms are:

* The North Hall [ pages 39-42, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] located behind the north portico this is the main entrance hall of the house and the least changed of the rooms dating from the 1730s. The ceiling has a deep cove, and was painted by William Kent in grisaille on gold background imitating mosaic. There are six classical deities depicted in the cove, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Apollo and Diana. There are also nine of the signs of the zodiac. The flat centre of the ceiling is enclosed in a plaster beam, which in turn encloses a square with a circle within which encloses a painting of Mars. The south wall has in its centre a large set of doors which lead into The Marble Saloon. The west wall has above the fireplace Thomas Banks's white marble relief of "Caractacus before the Emperor Claudius" in its centre which is flanked by two doors. The east wall has above a small staircase leading to the ground floor Christophe Veyrier's white marble relief of "The family of Darius before Alexander the Great" in its centre flanked by two doors.
* The Marble Saloon [ pages 36-38, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] is the grandest interior in the House, located immediately behind the south portico. Based on the Pantheon. It is elliptical in plan, convert|63|ft|m by convert|45|ft|m, the domed ceiling is over convert|56|ft|m high. The room was probably designed by Vincenzo Valdrè, the basic structure was built between 1775-77 but decoration was probably only complete by 1788 at a cost of £12,000. The lower half of the walls are surrounded by 16 unfluted Roman Doric columns made from Red scagliola with white veins and with white marble capitals and bases, supporting a richly detailed Doric entablature of white plaster with satyrs on the metopes. These columns flank four doors on the cardinal directions, the rest flank plain niches that once contained plaster casts of Ancient Roman statues. Above the niches and doorways are white plaster rectangular reliefs depicting arms and trophies. Above the entablature is the very elaborate frieze, this consists of over 280 human and 14 animals in plaster all alto-relievo, the sculptor was probably Charles Peart. The subject of the frieze is the suovetaurilia. The dome is coffered of white plaster, there are 160 coffers nearly all of unique shape. The coffers contain highly decorated rosettes, and the ribs in between are also very elaborately decorated. There is a central skylight also elliptical. The floor is made of 72 four foot square slabs of white Carrara marble resting on a brick vault, in the centre of the floor is a metal grill part of the heating system.
* The State Music Room [ pages 51-55, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] to the east of the Marble Saloon is about 30 by convert|40|ft|m, probably designed by Valdrè and finished in the early 1780s. With an apse in the centre of the north wall, there are doors at each end of the side walls, though only the northern pair are real, the other two are false doors. The north has within the apse two sets of doors flanking a niche that is surrounded by a decorative frame. There are two un fluted scagliola Corinthian columns on the corners of the apse and also within it flanking the niche. The walls are painted with panels in the form of Grotesques and Arabesques. The chimneypiece in the centre of the east wall of white marble inset with panels of rosso antico marble and with carved decoration of musical instruments in white marble and ormolu, this chimneypiece was sold in 1922 but bought back in 1991, a new mirror above the chimneypiece was made to replace the original one. The plaster ceiling has gilt molded decoration and seven inset paintings. The central painting is circular and is of "The Dance of the Hours" after Guido Reni and is flanked to the north and south by two rectangular paintings of the four seasons. Between these large paintings are four smaller ones of landscape scenes. All the paintings are believed to be by Valdrè.
* The Large Library [ pages 48-51, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] is convert|75|ft|m by convert|25|ft|m, it is located to the east of the State Music Room. This room was created in 1793 from the former East Gallery. The plaster ceiling dates from then, with its elaborate cornice supporting a deep coffered cove in each corner of which are clusters of grapes, the flat centre of the ceiling has elaborate decoration, including in the border of the central panel mermen holding and feeding a griffin. The main entrance is in the centre of the long north wall. There are chimneypieces in the centre of each end wall, these are of white marble with flanking caryatids, the jambs are of black marble, one dates from 1792 which is a copy of the other probably dating from the 1760s. Above each chimneypiece is a mirror. The bookcases are of mahogany there are over five hundred shelves on the lower walls and they have their original doors with brass wire grills. The walls are complete covered by the sheleving, even the walls between the seven windows of the south wall. The upper two hundred and forty shelves are accessed via a gallery running around the east, north and west walls. There are a series of three marble busts in the windows that were sold from the house in 1921 but have been repurchased, these are: 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos by Raimondo Trentanova, Frederick III, German Emperor and Victoria, Princess Royal both carved by Tito Angelini. Also there are small busts above the bookcases on the window wall, Homer, Francis Bacon, Isaac newton, Horace, Demosthenes and another of Homer. These were sold in 1921 but donated to the House and returned to their original positions.
* The State Drawing Room [ pages 54-57, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] also called the Temple Room. Is to the west of the Marble Saloon is about 30 by convert|40|ft|m, with an apse in the centre of the north wall, there are doors at each end of the side walls, though only the northern pair are real, the other two are false doors. The plaster ceiling is probably a design of Valdrè. Decorated in neo-classical style with a symmetrical arrangement of nereids, tazzas, paterae and other motifs, originally the details were gilt but this was replaced by silver in 1965 restoration, the ceiling dates from 1776 and was executed by James Lovell. The original marble fireplace dated 1777 was sold in 1922 and is now in Spain, it contained an antique alabaster bas-relief from Egypt of a "Sacrifice to Bacchus". The north wall has an enagaged fluted Corinthian columns of wood flankin the apse and a further two within it, there are quarter columns in the corners of the room. The walls used to be hung with red Damask and the finest paintings in the collection hung on the walls. There being in 1838 fifty two paintings hanging on the walls, including works by Rubens, Nicholas Poussin, Murillo, Albert Cuyp, David Teniers the Younger and Domenichino, these are now distributed across museums in Britain and America. Also the finest pieces of Sèvres porcelain of the over 200 in the collection used to be displayed in this room, but these were sold in 1848. The furnishings included several pieces from the Doge's Palace which are now in other British collections and museums.
* The State Dining Room [ pages 57-59, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] is convert|75|ft|m by convert|25|ft|m. Located to the west of the State Drawing Room, this was the State Gallery until 1817 when it assumed its current name. The ceiling has an elaborate plaster entablature supporting a deep cove, this has painted decoration dated 1747 by Francesco Sleter, including "Hebe feeding Jupiter's Eagle" east, "Cupid playing with two Graces" north, "Cupid asleep with two Graces" south and "Diana and her Hounds" west, the spaces between these paintings are decorated with animals including swans and their cygnets, pigeons and rabbits. There are three large octagonal paintings on the central flat of the ceiling. These are probably early 19th century replacements for the original by Robert Jones. They are "Venus disarming Cupid" east, "Venus on her Chariot, crowned by Cupid and attended by the Three Graces" centre and "Venus at her Toilet, attended by the Graces" west. There are also eight smaller octagonal panels depicting pairs of vases and clssical reliefs. The areas between these paintings are decorated with painted acanthus and all the paintings are bordered by white and gilt plaster beams decorated in guilloche. The two chimneypieces on the north wall date from the 1920s the original pair were sold in 1922, these were of white and yellow Siena marbles, with elaborately carved wooded overmantles that contained paintings now in America, these are "Goddess conducting Learning" east and "Mercury conducting Tragedy and Comedy to Parnassus". There are four paintings above the two doors in the west and east walls of male and female centaurs with Bacchic emblems and lyres, probably painted by Robert Jones. The walls used to be hung with five Brussels tapestries commissioned by Viscount Cobham, they depict the triumph of classical deities: Ceres, Bacchus, Neptune, Mars and Diana, they are now in Switzerland. The dining table when fully extended was convert|65|ft|m long. The walls are hung with various portraits of people associated with the house that have been acquired over the years.
* The Small Tapestry Dining Room [ pages 60-61, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] now known as the Servery is located to the west of the State Dining Room, having undergone drastic reconstruction little of the original decoration survives, only the gilt cornice and plaster frieze, and the frames that enclosed the tapestries are still in place, the elaborate marble chimneypiece and its carved-wooden overmantle were sold in 1922. The ceiling was destroyed in 1935 when the western pavilion of the south front was reconstructed due to structural problems.
* The Garter Room [ pages 62-65, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] which served as the State Bedroom is to the west of the Small Tapestry Dining Room. None of the original decoration survived reconstruction work. There is a reconstruction of the original plaster ceiling with its Garter insiginia in the centre.
* The Blue Room [ pages 45-48, Stowe House, Michael Bevington, 2002, Paul Holberton Publishing] to the east of the Long Library, used as a small drawing room. The plaster ceiling dated between 1774-1775 is decorated with emblems of Bacchus, including four thrysi surrounding an ornate jug with a handle in the form of a Satyr. Encircled by a wreath of vine-leaves and grapes. The four corners have reliefs of Venus, Flora, Vulcan and Venus.
* The Chapel
* The Gothic Library
* The Egyptian Hall

towe Landscape Gardens

The History of the gardens

In the 1690s Stowe had a modest early-Baroque parterre garden, owing more to Italy than to France, but it has not survived, and within a relatively short time, Stowe became widely renowned for its magnificent gardens created by the then owner of Stowe Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham. In the 1710s and 1720s, Charles Bridgeman (garden designer) and John Vanbrugh (architect) designed an English Baroque park, inspired by the work of London, Wise and Switzer. In the 1730s, William Kent and James Gibbs were appointed to work with Bridgeman, who died in 1738. Kent had already created the glorious garden at Rousham House, and he was joined by Giacomo Leoni to build temples, bridges and other garden structures. Kent's Temple of Ancient Virtue (1734) looks across the Elysian Fields to the Shrine of British Worthies. In 1741, Capability Brown was appointed head gardener. He worked with Kent until the latter's death in 1748, and his own departure in 1751. In these years, Bridgeman's Octagonal Pond and Eleven Acre Lake were given a "naturalistic" shape, and a Palladian Bridge was added in 1744. Brown made a Grecian Valley which, despite its name, is an abstract composition of landform and woodland. As Loudon remarked in 1831, "nature has done little or nothing; man a great deal, and time has improved his labours".As Stowe evolved from an English Baroque garden into a pioneering landscape park, the gardens became an attraction for many of the nobility, including political leaders. Indeed, Stowe is said to be the first English garden for which a guide book was produced. Wars and rebellions were reputedly discussed among the garden's many temples; the artwork of the time reflecting this by portraying caricatures of the better known politicians of history. Stowe began to evolve into a series of natural pictures to be appreciated from a perambulation rather than from a central point. In its final form the Gardens were the largest and most elaborate example of what became known in Europe as the English garden. The main gardens enclosed within the ha-ha cover over convert|400|acre|km2 [ page 89, English Gardens and Lanscapes 1700-1750, Christopher Hussey, Country Life 1967] . But the park also has many buildings including gate lodges and other monuments. The main divisions of the garden are:

The approaches

There are two main entrances to the Park, the Grand Avenue from Buckingham to the south and the Oxford Avenue from the south-west. The buildings in this area are:

* The Buckingham Lodges [ page 8, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] these are over three miles (5 km) due south of the centre of the House, probably designed by Vincenzo Valdrè, dated 1805 they flank the entrance to the Grand Avenue.

* The Corinthian Arch [ page 9, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] designed in 1765 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford, Lord Temple's cousin. Built from stone convert|65|ft|m in height. This is located at the northern end of the Grand Avenue over a mile and a half due south of the centre of the House, it is on the top of a hill. The central arch is flanked on the south side by paired Corinthian pilasters and on the north side by paired Corinthian engaged columns. The arch contains two residences originally for game-keepers. The flanking Tuscan columns were added in 1780.

* The Oxford Gates [ page 10, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] The central piers were designed by William Kent in 1731, for a position to the north-east, they were moved to their present location in 1761, and iron railings added either side, pavilions at either end were added in the 1780s to the design of the architect Vincenzo Valdrè. The piers have coats of arms in Coade stone.

* The Oxford Bridge [ page 10, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] built in 1761 to cross the river Dad after this had been dammed. It is stone of hump-backed form, having three arches the central one being slightly wider and higher than the flanking ones. With a solid parpet, there are eight decorative urns places at the ends of the parpets and above the two piers.

* The Boycott Pavilions [ page 10-11, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] of stone designed by James Gibbs, the eastern one built 1728 the western in 1729. Located on the brow of a hill overlooking the river Dad, they flank the Oxford drive. Originally both were in the form of square planned open belvederes with stone pyramidal roofs. In 1758 the architect Giovanni Battista Borra altered them, replacing them with the lead domes, with a round dormer window in each face and an open lantern in the centre. the eastern pavilion was converted into a three story house in 1952.

The forecourt

Located in front of the north facade of the house, this has in its centre:

* The Statue of George I [ page 12, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] a greater than life size equestrian statue of King George 1st by Andries Carpentière located in the middle of the Forecourt, made of cast lead in 1723. It is on a tall stone plinth.

The south vista

This includes the sloping lawns to the south of the House down to the "Octagon Lake" and a mile and a half beyond to the Corinthian Arch beyond which stretches the "Grand Avenue" of over a mile and a half to Buckingham. The buildings in this area are:

* The Doric Arch [ page 23, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] of stone erected in 1768 for the visit of Princess Augusta, a simple arched flanked by fluted Doric pilasters with an elaborate entablature with triglyphs and carved metopes. Supporting a tall attic. This leads to the Elysian fields.

*Statue of George II on the western edge of the lawn was rebuilt in 2004 by the National Trust. This is a monument to King George II, originally built in 1724 before he became king. The monument consists of an unfluted Corinthian column on a plinth that supports the Portland stone sculpture of the King which is a copy of the statue sold in 1921.

* The Lake Pavilions [ page 24, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] these were designed by Vanbrugh in 1719, they are on the edge of the ha-ha flanking the central vista through the Park to the Corinthian Arch. They were moved further apart in 1764 and their details made neo-classical by the architect Borra. Raised on a low podium they reached by a flight of eight steps, they are pedimented of four fluted Doric columns in width by two in depth, with a solid back wall and with coffered plaster ceiling. Behind the eastern pavilion is the Bell Gate, this was used by the public when visiting the gardens in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Elysian fields

Is to the immediate east of the South Vista, designed by William Kent there is a series of buildings and monuments surrounding a series of narrow lakes more like a river that step down to the Octagon Lake. The buildings in this area are:

* The Temple of Ancient Virtue [ page 26, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] built in 1737 to the designs of Kent, in the form of a Tholos, a circular domed building surrounded by columns. In this case they are unfluted Ionic columns, 16 in number, raised on a podium, there twelve steps up to the two arched doorless entrances. Within are four niches one between the two doorways. They contain four life size sculptures (plaster copies of the originals by Peter Scheemakers sold in 1921). They are Epaminondas (general), Lycurgus (lawmaker), Homer (poet) and Socrates (philosopher).

* The Temple of British Worthies [ pages 28-30, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] designed by Kent and built 1734-5, built of stone, it is a curving roofless exedra with a large stone pier in the centre surmounted by a stepped pyramid containing an oval niche that once contained a bust of Mercury. The curving wall contains 6 niches either side of the central pier. With further niches on the two ends of the wall and two more behind. These are filled by busts, half carved by John Michael Rysbrack these are John Milton, William Shakespeare, John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon, Elizabeth I, William III and Inigo Jones the other eight are by Peter Scheemakers these are Alexander Pope, Sir Thomas Gresham, King Alfred the Great, The Black Prince, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Francis Drake, John Hampden and Sir John Barnard (Whig MP and opponent of the Whig Prime Minster Sir Robert Walpole). There is a small pediment above each niche that breaks forward slightly from the wall. There are three broad steps following the curving wall.

* The Shell Bridge [ page 31, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] designed by Kent, finished by 1739, it is actually a dam disguised as a bridge decorated with shells.

* The Grotto [ pages 31-32, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] probably designed by Kent in the 1730s, located at the head of the serpentine 'river' that flows through the Elysian Fields. There are two pavilions one ornamented with shells the other with pebbles and flints.

* The Seasons Fountain [ page 32, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] probably erected in 1805, built from white statuary marble, spring water flows from it, the basic structure is made from an 18th century chimneypiece, it used to be decorated with Wedgwood plaques of the four seasons and had silver drinking cups suspended on either side.

* The Greville Column [ pages 32-33, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] originally erected in 1749 near the Grecian Valley it was moved to its present location in 1756. It commemorates one of Lord Cobham's nephews Captain Thomas Grenville RN killed in 1747 while fighting the French off Cape Finisterre aboard HMS Defiance under the command of Admiral Anson, the monument is based on an Ancient Roman naval monument, a Rostral Column, one that is carved with the prows of Roman galleys sticking out from the shaft. The order used is Tuscan, and is surmounted by a statue of Calliope holding a scroll inscibed "Non nisi grandia canto" (Only sing of heroic deeds), there is a lengthy inscription in Latin added to the base of the column after it was moved.

* The Cook Monument [ page 33, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] built in 1778 as a monument to Captain James Cook, it takes the form of a stone Globe on a pedestal. It was moved to its present position in 1842. The pedestal has a carved relief of Cook's head in profile and the inscription "Jacobo Cook/MDDLXXVIII".

The eastern garden

Is to the east of the Elysian Fields, also known as "The Hawkwell Field", an open area surrounded by some of the larger buildings. The buildings in this area are:

* The Gothic Temple [ pages 36-37, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] designed by James Gibbs in 1741 and completed about 1748, this is the only building in the Gardens built from ironstone, all the others use a creamy-yellow limestone. The building is triangular in plan of two stories with a pentagonal shaped tower at each corner, one of which rises two floors higher than the main building, the other two towers have lanterns on their roofs. The interior includes a circular room of two stories covered by a shallow dome that is painted to mimic mosaic work including shields representing the Heptarchy. Dedicated 'To the Liberty of our Ancestors'.

* The Pebble Alcove [ page 37, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] built of stone before 1739 probably to the designs of Kent. It takes the form of an exedra enclosed by a stone work surmounted by a pediment. The exedra is decorated with coloured pebbles, including the family coat of arms below which is the Temple family motto "TEMPLA QUAM DELECTA" (How Beautiful are thy Temples).

* The Chatham Urn [ page 38, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] this large stone urn carved in 1780 by John Bacon is a memorial to William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham former Prime Minster who was a relative of the Temple family, originally at another house; it was moved to Stowe in 1831 and placed on a small island in the Octagon Lake.

* Congreave's Monument [ page 38, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] of stone designed by Kent in 1736, this is a memorial to William Congreve. It is in the form of a pyramid with an urn carved on one side carved with Apollo's head, pan pipes and masks of comedy and tragedy; the truncated pyramid supports the sculpture of an ape looking at itself in a mirror, beneath are these inscriptions:

"Vitae imitatio Consuetudinis speculum Comoedia" "(Comedy is the imitation of life, and the glass of fashion)"

"Ingenio Acri, faceto, expolito, Moribusque Urabnis" "candidis, facillimis, Gulielmi Congreve, Hoc Qualecunque" "desiderii sui Solamen simul & Monumentum Posuit" "(In the year 1736, COBHAM erected this poor consolation of" "as well as Monument of, his loss of the piercing, elegant, polished" "Wit and civilized candid most unaffected Manners of William Congreve)"

* The Temple of Friendship [ pages 38-40, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] built of stone in 1739 to the designs of Gibbs. It was badly damaged by fire in 1840 and remains a ruin. Built as a pavilion to entertain Lord Cobham's friends it was originally decorated with murals by Francesco Sleter and a series of ten marble busts of Cobham's political friends. The building consisted of a square room rising through two floors surmounted by a pyramidal roof with a lantern. The front has a portico of four Tuscan columns supporting a pediment, the sides have arcades of one arch deep by three wide also supporting pediments. The arcades and portico with the wall behind are still standing.

* The Palladian Bridge [ pages 40-42, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] this is a copy of the bridge at Wilton House, the main difference is that the Stowe version is designed to be used by horse drawn carriages so is set lower with shallow ramps instead of steps on the approach. Completed in 1738 probably under the direction of Gibbs. Of five arches, the central wide and segmental with carved keystone, the two flanking semi-circular also with carved keystones, the two outer segmental. There is a balustraded parapet, the middle three arches also supporting an open pavilion, above the central arch this consists of colonades of four full and two half columns of unfluted Roman Ionic order. Above the flanking arches there are pavilions with arches on all four sides, these have engaged columns on their flanks and ends of the same order as the colonnade which in turn support pediments, the roof is of slate, with an elaborate plaster ceiling.

* The Queen's Temple [ pages 42-43, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] originally designed by Gibbs in 1742, this was designed for Lady Cobham to entertain her friends. But the building was extensively remodelled in 1772-4 to give it a neo-classical form, further alterations were made in 1790 to commorate George III recovery from madness with the help of Queen Charlotte after whom the building was renamed. The architect was probably Thomas Pitt, the portico is based on the Maison Carrée. The main floor is rasied up on a podium, the main facade consists of a portico of four fluted Composite columns, these are approached by a balustraded flight of steps the width of the portico. The facade is wider than the portico, the flanking walls having niches containing ornamental urns. The large door is fully glazed. The room within is the most elaborately decorated of any of the Garden's buildings. The Scagliola Corinthian columns and pilasters are based on the Temple of Venus and Roma, the barrel-vaulted ceiling is coffered. There are several plaster medallions around the walls, Britannia Deject, with this inscription "Desideriis icta fidelibus Quaerit Patria Caesarem (For Caeser's life, with anxious hopes and fears Britannia lifts to Heaven a nation's tears), Britannia with a palm branch sacrificing to Aesculapius with this inscription "O Sol pulcher! O laudande, Canam recepto Caesare felix" (Oh happy days! with rapture Britons sing the day when Heavenrestore their favourite King!) and Britannia supporting a medallion of the Queen with the inscription "Charlottae Sophiae Augustae, Pietate erga Regem, erga Rempublicam Virtute et constantia, In difficillimis temporibus spectatissimae D.D.D. Georgius M. de Buckingham MDCCLXXXIX. (To the Queen, Most respectable in the most difficult moments, for her attachment and zeal for the public service, George Marquess of Buckingham dedicates this monument). Other plaster decoration on the walls are 1. Trophies of Religion, Justice and Mercy, 2. Agriculture and Manufacture, 3. Navigation and Commerce and 4. War. Almost all the decoration was the work of Charles Peart except for the statue of Britannia by Joseph Ceracchi. In 1842 the 2nd Duke of Buckingham inserted in the centre of the floor the Roman mosaic found at nearby Foscott.

* The Saxon Deities [ pages 43-44, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] these are sculptures by John Michael Rysbrack of the seven deities that gave their names to the days of the week. Carved from Portland stone in 1727. They were moved to their present location in 1773, (the sculptures are copies of the originals that were sold in 1921-2). They are arranged in a circle. Each sculpture (with the exception of Sunna a half length sculpture) is life size, and stands on a plinth. They are: Sunna (Sunday) Seatern (Saturday), Mani (Monday), Tiw (Tuesday), Woden (Wednesday), Thor (Thursday) and Frigg (Friday).

The Lamport gardens

Is to the south east of the Eastern Gardens, was created from the 1840s by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham's gardener Mr Ferguson and the architect Edward Blore as an ornamental rock and water garden. The building in this area is:

* The Chinese HousePages 45, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] known to date from 1738 making it the first known building in England built in the Chinese style. Made of wood and painted on canvas inside and out by Francesco Sleter. Originally it was on stilts in a pond near the Elysian Fields. In 1750 it was moved from Stowe and was purchased by the National Trust in 1996 and returned and placed in its present position.

The Grecian valley

Is to the north of the Eastern Garden, an L-shaped area of lawns which was excavated with the original intentions of creating a lake, designed by Capability Brown and created from 1747 to 1749, this is Brown's first known landscape design. The buildings in this area are:

* Temple of Concord and VictoryPages 47-50, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] The designer of this the largest of the garden buildings is unknown, built from stone, between 1747-49, the building is located where the two legs of the valley meet. It is raised on a podium with a flight of steps up to the main entrance, the cella and pronaos is surrounded by a peristyle of 28 fluted Roman Ionic columns, ten on the flanks and six at each end. The main pediment contains a sculpture by Peter Scheemakers of "Four Quarters of the World bringing their Various Products to Britannia", there are six statues acroterion of cast lead painted to resemble stone on both the east and west pediments. In the frieze of the entablature are the words "CONCORDIAE ET VICTORIAE", the sculpture on the building dates from the 1760s when it was converted into a monument to the British victory in the Seven Years' War. The ceiling of the peristyle is based on an engraving by Robert Wood of a ceiling in Palmyra. Within the pronaos and cella are 16 terracotta medallions commemorating British Victories. The wooden doors are painted a deep blue with gilded highlights on the moldings. Above the door is an inscription by Valerius Maximus:

"Quo Tempore Salus eorum in ultimas Ausustias deducta" "nullum Ambitioni Locum relinquebat"

"(The Times with such alarming Dangers fraught" "Left not a Hope for any factious Thought)"

The interior end wall of the cella has an aedicule containing a statue of Liberty. Above is this inscription:

"Candidis autem animis voluptatem praebuerint in" "cinspicuo posita qua cuique magnifica merito contigerunt"

"(A sweet sensation touches every breast of candour's generous sentiment possest," "When public services with honour due, are gratefully marked out to public view)"

* The Fane of Pastoral PoetryPages 50, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] , located in a grove of trees at the eastern end of the Grecian Valley, it is a small belvedere designed by James Gibbs in 1729 it was moved to its present position in the 1760s. It is square in plan with chamfered corners, built of stone, each side is an arch, butresses protrude from each corner. Surmounted by a dome, with a square finial.

* The Cobham MonumentPage 50, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] , to the south of the Grecian Valley is the tallest structure in the gardens rising convert|104|ft|m. Built 1747-49 of stone, probably designed by Brown. It is consists of a squre plinth with corner buttresses surmounted by Coade stone lions holding shields added in 1778. The column itself is octagonal with a single flute on each face, with a molded doric capital and base. On which is a small belvedere of eight arches with a dome supporting the sculpture of Lord Cobham.

The western garden

Is to the immediate west of the South Vista, including the "Eleven-Acre Lake". The buildings in this area are:

* The RotondoPages 13-15, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] designed by Vanburgh and built 1720-1, this is a circular temple, consisting of ten unfluted Roman Ionic columns rasided up on a podium of three steps. The dome was altered by Borra in 1773-4 to give it a lower profile. In the centre is a staue of Venus raised on a tall decorated plinth. The current sculpture is a recent replacement for the original and is gilt.

* Statue of Queen CarolinePages 15-16, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] this takes the form of a Tetrapylon, a high square plinth surmounted by four fluted Roman Ionic columns supporting an entablature which in turn supports the statue of Queen Caroline on its pedestal around which is inscribed "Honori, Laudi, Virtuti Divae Carolinae" (To honour, Praise and Virtue of the Divine Caroline}.

* The Temple of VenusPages 16-17, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] dated 1731 this was the first building in the Gardens designed by William Kent. The stone building takes the form of one of Palladio's villas, the central rectangular room linked by two quadrant arcades to pavilions. The main main pedimented facade has an exedra screened by two full and two half Roman Ionic columns, there are two niches containing busts either side of the door of Cleopatra & Faustina, the exedra is flanked by two niches containing busts of Nero and Vespasian all people known for their sexual appetites. The end pavilions have domes. The interior used to be decorated by murals painted by Francesco Sleter including Venus promoting sexual jealousy. The paintings were destroyed in the late 18th century.

* The HermitagePages 19-20, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] designed c1731 by Kent, heavily rusticated and with a pediment containing a carving of panpipes within a wreath, and a small tower to the right of the entrance.

* Dido's CavePage 19, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] little more than alcove probably built in the 1720s, originally decorated with a painting of Dido and Aeneas. In c1781 the facade was decorated with tufa by the Marchioness of Buckingham. Her son the 1st Duke of Buckingham turned it into her memorial by adding the inscription "Mater Amata, Vale!" (Farewell beloved Mother).

* The Artificial Ruins & The CascadePages 20-21, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] constructed in the 1730s the cascade links the Eleven Acre Lake which is higher with the Octagon Lake. The ruins are a series of arches above the cascade built to look ruinous.

* The MenageriePage 21, Stowe Landscape Gardens, James Shurmer, 1997 National Trust] of stone built c1781 probably to the designs of Valdrè. It was built to display the Marquess of Buckingham's stuffed animals. The central room is surmounted by a dome that has an exterior clad in copper, the interior used to have a mural. The facade consists of four evenly spaces Ionic pilasters the centre pair flanking the arched entrance doors, the outer pair niches. There are two quadrant wings of five bays flanked by Ionic columns matching the pilasters, between which are windows the rooms behind being orangeries the ends of which are solid walls with arched doors in the middle flanked by herms, the whole surmounted by pediments.

The park

Surrounding the Gardens it originally covered over convert|5000|acre|km2 and stretched north into the adjoining county of Northamptonshire. The buildings in the Park include:

* Stowe Castle two miles (3 km) to the east of the gardens, built in the 1730s probably to designs by Gibbs.

* The Bourbon Tower near Stowe Castle it was built c1741 probably to designs by Gibbs, it is a circular tower of three floors with a conical roof, it was given its present name in 1808 to commemorate a visit by the exiled French royal family.

* The 2nd Duke's Obelisk near the Bourbon Tower, this granite obelisk was erected in 1864.

* The Wolfe Obelisk stone 100 feet (31 m) high located a few hundred yards to the north-west of the garden, originally designed by Vanbrugh, it was moved in 1754 from the centre of the Octagon Lake and is a memorial to General Wolfe.

* The Gothic Umbrello near the Wolfe Obelisk, is a small octagonal pavilion dating from the 1790s.

The Temple-Grenville family

From 1784, Stowe was the seat of the Marquesses of Buckingham. The 2nd Marquess of Buckingham married the heiress of the last Duke of Chandos and was then created Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (10 September 1823–26 March 1889), usually shortened to Richard Temple-Grenville, was a British statesman of the 19th century, and a close friend and subordinate of Benjamin Disraeli. He was styled Marquess of Chandos until the death of his father in 1861.

Earl Temple of Stowe is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was bestowed in 1822 to Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, who had been earlier created Duke of Buckingham. With the death of the third Duke, there remained no heirs-male to the dukedom, so it became extinct. The Earldom, however, had a special remainder in the letters patent creating it that allowed it to descend in the female line, which it did, to the first Duke's great-grandson William Gore-Langton. The house remained the seat of the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos until the extinction of that title in 1889, and then of the Earls Temple of Stowe until the early 20th century, when, due to prodigious debts, the house was sold to become a school.

Listed status

Stowe has one of the largest concentrations of grade I listed buildings in England. There are separate grade I listings in place for:
*The house
*The arches at each end of the north front of the house
*Dido's Cave
*The equestrian statue of George I to the north of the house
*Lord Cobham's Column
*Queen Caroline's Monument
*The Boycott Pavilions
*The Cascade
*The Congreve Monument
*The Corinthian Arch
*The Doric Arch
*The Gothic Temple
*The Grenville Column
*The Hermitage
*The Lake Pavilions
*The Oxford Bridge
*The Oxford Gate
*The Palladian Bridge
*The Queens Temple
*The Rotondo
*The Shell Bridge and Captain Cook's Monument
*The Temple of Ancient Virtue
*The Temple of British Worthies
*The Temple of Concord and Victory
*The Temple of Friendship
*The Temple of Venus
*The Wolfe ObeliskThis is nearly 0.5% of the approximately 6,000 grade I listings in England and Wales. The other historic buildings in the garden and park are listed grade II* or grade II. [ [ Images of England.] ]

ee also

* Stowe, Buckinghamshire
* Stowe SchoolIonic Arch

External links

* [ Information about Stowe House from the Stowe School website]
* [ Stowe Landscape Gardens information at the National Trust]
* [ Abandoned Communities ... the deserted village of Stowe]


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