Stowe House is a Grade I listed country house located in Stowe, Buckinghamshire. It is the home of Stowe School, an independent school. The gardens (known as Stowe Landscape Gardens), a significant example of the English garden style, along with part of the Park, passed into the ownership of The National Trust in 1989 and are open to the public. The house is open to the public on 280 days a year with tours during the school holidays, and during term time. The parkland surrounding the gardens is open 365 days a year. The Temple family fortune was based on sheep farming, they were first recorded as such at Witney in Oxfordshire. Later from 1546 they had been renting a sheep farm in Burton Dassett in Warwickshire. The Stowe estate was leased from 1571 by Peter Temple, his son John Temple bought the manor & estate of Stowe in 1589 and it became the home of the Temple family. In the late 17th century, the house was completely rebuilt by Sir Richard Temple, 3rd Baronet, (c.1683) on the present site. This house is now the core of the mansion known today. The old medieval stronghold was located near Stowe Parish Church that is about 100 yards to the south-east of the current house. Having been redesigned subsequently over the years, the whole front is now 916 feet (279 m) in length and can be seen as you approach from the direction of Buckingham. A long, straight driveway 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. The driveway approach to the house is still in use today, although it no longer runs through the arch.
John Temple was the first member of the family to serve as High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire and also Justice of the Peace. Sir Thomas Temple first purchased a Knighthood in 1603 from James I then purchased from the same monarch the baronetcy in 1611. He was the first member of the family to serve as a Member of Parliament in 1588-9. Sir Peter Temple was a supporter of Oliver Cromwell and served as a colonel in the parliamentary army during the English Civil War. When the War of the Spanish Succession broke out in 1702 the 4th Baronet was appointed a colonel by William III, he was later promoted to Lieutenant General. First created Baron Cobham in 1714 by King George I, then in 1718 Viscount Cobham by the same king. In 1715 he married Anne Halsey an heiress of a rich London brewer. She brought a dowry of £100,000. He was a member of the Kit-Cat Club where he probably first met fellow members John Vanbrugh and Joseph Addison whose writings on garden design influenced the development of the gardens at Stowe. Cobham was the centre of the Whig party grouping of Cobhamites. His sister Hester was created Countess of Temple in her own right in 1749 by King George II, from which her son, heir to the estate inherited his title as 2nd Earl Temple. Richard Grenville the future 2nd Earl Temple, married Anna Chamber in 1737, an heiress with a £50,000 fortune. He was leader of the Whig group known as the Grenvillites. King George II made Earl Temple a Knight of the Garter in 1760. Earl Temple was an active supporter of John Wilkes. When the Earl's cousin George Dodington, 1st Baron Melcombe died in 1762 he left his Vanbrugh designed house Eastbury Park and estates in Dorset to Earl Temple. He attempted to sell the house, but as no buyer could be found, he demolished most of the building using the marble from the house in the Marble Saloon at Stowe. The Eastbury estate was finally sold in 1806.
British and foreign aristocrats and royalty frequently stayed at the house throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1725 The 3rd Earl of Carlisle and his wife stayed for a fortnight. The 1730s and 1740s saw visits by Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk, and The 1st Earl of Bath; The Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales, along with other friends of Lord Cobham (see the Temple of Friendship), were also frequent guests. In 1750 The 1st Earl of Bristol attended a reception at the house. In 1754 Count Stanisław August Poniatowski (the future King of Poland) visited the gardens. The 1760s saw two visits by Leopold III, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau, as part of his tours of English gardens in preparation for the creation of the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm. 1768 saw the visit of King Christian VII of Denmark. In July 1770 there was a house party lasting several days whose guests included Princess Amelia, The Hon. Horace Walpole, Lady Mary Coke and The 2nd Earl of Bessborough. The Prince Regent (the future King George IV) came in 1805 and 1808. King Louis XVIII came in January 1808 for several days, his party including: the Comte d'Artois, Louis's brother and successor as King of France; the Duc d'Orléans (who would be France's last ever King); and the Prince of Condé.
1810 saw the visit of King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden. Tsar Alexander I of Russia visited in 1810 and in 1814 Grand Duke Michael of Russia also visited. 1816 saw a visit by Hermann Graf Pückler. The Graf, a famous travel writer from Upper Lusatia, was later elevated in the Prussian peerage as Hermann, Fürst von Pückler-Muskau. Then in 1818 Grand Duke Nicholas (the future Tsar of Russia) visited. The same year saw the first of many visits by The Duke of Clarence (the future King of Great Britain and Ireland). Following King William IV's death, his widow Queen Adelaide stayed in 1840. That year also saw visits by The Duke of Cambridge and his son Prince George. In 1843 there were several visits by German royalty, with the British-born King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover and his wife, Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, staying at the house. Later that year, both Crown Prince Johann of Saxony and Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (later the first German Kaiser) would stay at Stowe. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed at the house for several days in 1845. Due to financial problems, the family let the estate to the Comte de Paris from 1889 to 1894. The Comte died that year in the house; his body was laid in state in the Marble Saloon, during which period The Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), paid his respects.
Famous non-royal visitors included: Alexander Pope, a frequent visitor from 1724 onwards, who, in 1726, visited in the company of Dean Jonathan Swift and John Gay; another writer and friend to Lord Cobham who visited in the 1720s was William Congreve; in 1730 James Thomson wrote the poem The Seasons after visiting the gardens; in 1732 Gilbert West a nephew of Lord Cobham's, wrote his poem Stowe after visiting the gardens; 1750 saw the first of eight visits by Sanderson Miller; the 1750s also saw visits by Jean-Jacques Rousseau; in 1770 Thomas Whately wrote an extensive description of the gardens; François-Joseph Bélanger visited in 1777-8 and drew the gardens. In April 1786 John Adams (the future second President of the United States on tour with Thomas Jefferson—who would serve as his vice president before becoming President himself) visited Stow and other notable houses in the area, after visiting them he wrote in his diary "Stowe, Hagley, and Blenheim, are superb; Woburn, Caversham, and the Leasowes are beautiful. Wotton is both great and elegant, though neglected". However, in his diary he was also damning about the means used to finance the large estates, and he did not think that the embellishments to the landscape, made by the owners of the great country houses, would suit the more rugged American countryside. William Crotch visited in 1805, as did Charles James Fox in the party that included the Prince Regent.
The 2nd Earl Temple's sister Hester married William Pitt the Elder who became Prime Minister of Great Britain. Their son William Pitt the Younger also served as Prime Minister. George Grenville the brother of the 2nd Earl Temple was also to serve as Prime Minister. William Grenville youngest brother of the 1st Marquess of Buckingham also served as Prime Minister, and it was during his premiership that the Atlantic slave trade was abolished. The final family member to be Prime Minister was William Ewart Gladstone. He married Catherine Glynne the granddaughter of Catherine sister of the 1st Marquess of Buckingham. Other notable politicians in the family included Thomas Grenville the brother of the 1st Marquess, Robert Nugent, 1st Earl Nugent the father-in-law of the 1st Marquess, Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford brother of William Pitt the elder, George Nugent-Grenville, 2nd Baron Nugent brother of the 1st Duke and the 1st Marquess's nephew Richard Griffin, 3rd Baron Braybrooke. George Nugent-Temple-Grenville undertook the grand tour in 1774. In 1775 he married a Catholic heiress Mary Nugent, who had an income of £14,000 a year. He was created 1st Marquess of Buckingham in 1784 by King George III. On the death in 1788 of the Marquess's father-in-law Robert Nugent, 1st Earl Nugent he inherited the Earl's Irish (8,900 acres) and Cornish estates.
The 2nd Marquess of Buckingham married in 1796 Anna Eliza Brydges the daughter and heiress of James Brydges, 3rd Duke of Chandos who had died in 1789. He thus acquired this wife's estates in Hampshire and Middlesex. Up until 1822 the family had been staunch Whigs, but in order to obtain the long sought Dukedom the family became Tories. The Dukedom was bestowed in 1822 by King George IV on Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville (he had acquired this long list of surnames by dint of the family habit of marrying heiesses) 2nd Marquess who became the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. The deal was to support the then Prime Minister Lord Liverpool's administration. The family spent a great deal of money to control several rotten boroughs, including Old Sarum, whose M.P.s switch their support to the prime minister, although the 1832 Reform Act would end this practice. The 1st Duke was a Colonel in the Royal Buckinghamshire Militia (King's Own), he led his battalion in 1814 to France under the command of The Duke of Wellington.
The 2nd Duke through his mother Anna was descended from the House of Plantagenet and was an active member of the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry. His support of which added to the debts of £1,464,959 (well over a quarter of a billion) he had accrued by 1845. He was called the Greatest Debtor in the world. The Duke left to live abroad in August 1847 to escape his creditors. That year saw the sale of the family's London home Buckingham House in Pall Mall. In March 1848 the family estates in Ireland, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Cornwall, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire & Middlesex some 36,000 acres (15,000 ha) of land, were sold. Followed by the most valuable of the paintings, furniture and other art works at Stowe, over 21,000 bottles of wine and over 500 of spirits in the wine cellars below the Marble Saloon, were all sold from 15 August to 7 October 1848 by Christie's. The auction was held in The State Dining Room, but only raised £75,400. At the end of the sales the estate had contracted to the core 10,000 acres in Buckinghamshire. The garden staff were cut from 40 to 4.
The house is the result of four main periods of development these are: 1677-1683 under Sir Richard Temple. This involved the building of the central block. The architect was William Cleare who worked for Sir Christopher Wren as his chief joiner. The house was of brick four floors high including the basement and attics and thirteen bays in length. 1720s–1733 under Viscount Cobham, including the addition of the Ionic North tetrastyle Portico by Vanbrugh and the rebuilding of the north, east and west fronts. After Vanbrugh's death in 1726 work continued under William Kent it was probably he who designed the now demolished two-tier south portico that consisted of four Tuscan columns with four Ionic or Composite columns above. 1740s–1760 under Viscount Cobham, the expansion of both the western and eastern state apartments. 1770–1779 under Earl Temple having first obtained a design from Jacques-François Blondel for the new south front of the house, which did not meet with the Earl's approval, in 1771 Robert Adam produced a new design for the south front; this design was adapted and made more uniform by Thomas Pitt assisted by Giovanni Battista Borra and was finished in 1779. The interiors of the new state apartments were not completed until 1788, much of the interior work being by an Italian, Vincenzo Valdrè (1740–1814). At the same time, the final remodelling of the North Front was taking place: this involved the erection in 1770–1772 of the two twin quadrant colonnades of Ionic columns that flank the facade. These may be to Robert Adam's design. The northern ends of the colonnades are linked to screen-walls containing gateways by William Kent which were moved from the forecourt to this position and heightened in 1775 by Vincenzo Valdrè. The east gateway leads to the stable court the west to the kitchen court. At right angles to these walls stand the arches designed by Giacomo Leoni c. 1740; these were formal entrances to the gardens, they now lead to various buildings put up by the school.
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 460 feet. Divided into five major sections, these are: the central block around 130 feet in width, the lower linking sections 75 feet 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 90 feet in width. The central block and the end pavilions are articulated at piano nobile level with unfluted Corinthian pilasters over 35 feet 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 20 feet 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 ancient Roman statues, between the columns of the portico used to be the marble sculpture of Vertumnus and Pomona by Laurent Delvaux now in the V&A. Above the niches is a large frieze on a Bacchic theme, this is based on an engraving in James Stuart's and Nicholas Revett's Antiquities of Athens of the frieze on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. 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 Medici lions standing and resting a paw on a ball. These are the original lions dating from the late 1700s.
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 ground floor is lower than the floor above, about 15 feet in height and visually acts as a base to the facade, it is of banded rustication with simple arched windows beneath each window on the upper floor. In 1790 a balustrade was added parallel to the façade that ran from the bottom of the steps the full length of the house and then returned at both ends, there are a series of 30 pedestals along the balustrade, that until their sale in 1921 were topped by bronze urns. These were replaced by replicas in 2013. Formal flower beds were laid out in the area.
The major rooms are: The North Hall. 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, either side of these doors are portraits by Sir William Beechey of on left Richard, first Duke of Buckingham & Chandos on the right Anna Eliza, First Duchess of Buckingham & Chandos she is depicted with her son later the 2nd Duke. 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. Works of art sold in 1848 that used to be in this room include Anthony van Dyck's portrait of the Marquess of Vienville, and among other sculpture two marble vases bought as Ancient Roman but actually the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi.
The Marble Saloon. This is the grandest interior in the House, located immediately behind the south portico. Based on the Pantheon, it is elliptical in plan, 63 feet by 45 feet, the domed ceiling is over 56 feet high. The room was probably designed by Vincenzo Valdrè, the basic structure was built between 1775 and 1777 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 that mimics Sicilian Jasper the work of Domenico Bartoli and with white marble capitals and bases, supporting a richly detailed Doric entablature of white plaster with satyrs on the metopes. Hanging from the soffit of the entablature between each pair of columns are replica brass lanterns with glass domes, these are copies of the original light fittings. These columns flank four doors on the cardinal directions, the rest flank plain niches that once contained eight Ancient Roman statues these were sold in 1848, new plaster casts of eight statues from the Berlin State Museums were added to the niches flanking each door and were unveiled in September 2009. Added at the same time to the niches between each pair of statues were fibreglass copies of the original gilded Athéniennes (or Torchieres). 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 humans 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. This is the first room to be fully restored to its pre-1848 condition.
The State Music Room, to the east of The Marble Saloon, is about 30 by 40 feet, 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, and 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 four crystal chandeliers are modern replacements for the original ones. The ancient Roman sculpture the Marine Venus, that used to stand in the niche, was purchased by Queen Victoria at the 1848 sale and is now at Osborne House. This has been replaced in the niche by a bust of William Pitt the elder by Joseph Wilton. There is mention of a chamber organ in the room in 1779.
The Large Library, one of the three libraries in the house, is 75 feet by 25 feet and 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 grilles. The walls are completely covered by the shelving, and 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. The over 20,000 volumes that were on these shelves, largely collected by the 1st Marquess of Buckingham were sold in January 1849, at Sotheby's, the sale lasted 24 days. There is a series of three marble busts in the windows, 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 of Homer, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Horace, Demosthenes and another of Homer.
The State Drawing Room, also called The Temple Room, to the west of The Marble Saloon, is about 30 by 40 feet, 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, and 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 at the headquarters of Grupo Santander, it contains an antique alabaster bas-relief from Egypt of a Sacrifice to Bacchus. The north wall has an engaged fluted Corinthian columns of wood flanking 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 were in 1838 fifty two paintings hanging on the walls, including: Helena Fourment by Rubens; The Exposition of Moses by Nicholas Poussin; The Finding of Moses by Salvator Rosa; Assumption of the Virgin by Murillo; Philip Baptising the Eunuch by Albert Cuyp; View of a Village by David Teniers the Younger and The Persian Sybil by Domenichino. 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.
The State Dining Room is 75 feet by 25 feet. Located to the west of The State Drawing Room, created in the 1740s, the probable architect being either Henry Flitcroft or 'Capability' Brown. 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 classical 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 guilloché. The two chimneypieces on the north wall date from the 1920s. 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 dining table, when fully extended, is 65 feet long. The walls are hung with various portraits of people associated with the house and family that have been acquired over the years, these are, on the east wall Caroline Harvey wife of the 3rd Duke by Sir Francis Grant, donated by the granddaughter of the sitter, The Hon. Mrs. Thomas Close-Smith (1886-1972) on her death in 1972; above the eastern fireplace Queen Caroline of Ansbach from the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller; in the centre of the north wall Lady Christian Lyttelton the sister of Viscount Cobham, a copy of a portrait by Kneller; over the western fireplace King George II from the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller; and on the west wall A Lady in Eastern Costume on a Terrace with a Peacock possibly Lady Hester Stanhope by James Northcote, she was the great-granddaughter of Sir Richard Temple 3rd Baronet.
The Small Tapestry Dining Room, now known as The Snug, is located to the west of The State Dining Room, originally dating from the late 1750s but 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 four tapestries sold in 1921 were from Brussels and depicted the Arts of War and were designed by Lambert de Hondt the Younger. The largest tapestry depicted the Battle of Wijnendale and included a depiction of Lord Cobham who was one of Marlborough's generals at the battle. The ceiling was destroyed in 1935 when the western pavilion of the south front was reconstructed due to structural problems. The Garter Room, now known as "The Servery", which served as the State Bedroom is to the west of The Small Tapestry Dining Room. Designed by Borra in 1755 and completed over the next five years. None of the original decoration survived the reconstruction of the west pavilion in 1935. There is a reconstruction of the original plaster ceiling with its Garter insignia in the centre. The magnificent state bed which was set up in the room in 1759-60 and was nearly 15 feet in height, survives in the Lady Lever Art Gallery. It used to be in the recess on the west wall. The room takes up the space behind the two western tripartite windows of the South Front, the corners of the room prior to 1935 contained separate closets. The south-western closet was called the Japan Closet and was decorated in a Japanese style, this used to contain the Chandos Jewels finally sold for nearly £10,000 by Lady Kinloss in 1929, also the room used to have a staircase to the dressing room on the floor above. The south-eastern closet was called the Shakespeare Closet because it contained the Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare. The north-east closet was a water-closet. In the niches in the walls that flank the recess between the two southern closets used to be displayed a collection 120 pieces of Maiolica.
The Blue Room, to the east of the Large Library, used as a small drawing room. Until the 1849 sale this was known as the Print Room and the walls were lined with bookshelves similar to those in the Large Library. These housed the extensive print collection. Over 55,000 prints were sold in 1834 at Philips auction house. After this sale the bookshelves were removed and replaced with panels of blue silk with matching curtains, (these were sold off in 1922), and the room assumed its present name. The plaster ceiling dated between 1774 and 1775 is decorated with emblems of Bacchus, including four thyrsi 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 relieves of Venus, Flora, Vulcan and Venus, the crystal chandelier is modern replacement for the original one as is the fireplace. Displayed in the room are several pieces of the 'Stowe Service' commissioned from the Worcester Porcelain Factory in 1813 by the 1st Duke while he was still a Marquess. The service was sold in two batches, 206 pieces in 1848, and the remaining 164 pieces in 1921. But as pieces have appeared on the market they have been repurchased. Also on display in the room are several family portraits that have also been bought as they have come on the market, they are The Marquess of Buckingham painted in his Garter robes by John Jackson; William Pitt the Elder by William Hoare; William Pitt the Younger by John Hoppner; a copy of Anne Chambers, Countess Temple by Allan Ramsey; Sir Peter Temple, Second Baronet by Cornelius Johnson; Sir Richard Temple, Third Baronet attributed to Henri Gascar; a photographic copy of Earl Temple by Allan Ramsey the original is in the National Gallery of Victoria; Alice Anne, Duchess of Buckingham by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope; Viscount Cobham by Jean-Baptiste van Loo; The Third Duke of Buckingham and Chandos an engraving of the portrait by C.A. Tompkins & a possible portrait of Earl Temple by Robert Edge Pine. Also in the room are two of the original Athéniennes from the Marble Saloon.
The Breakfast Parlour. Now called the Chandos Sigma Dormitory. It is immediately to the east of the Blue Room dating from 1773 to 1775. This is a relatively plain room. The ceiling is coved, the centre of the ceiling is decorated with a circular painting of Venus blindfolding Cupid surrounded by plaster decoration that includes incense burners. The marble fireplace dated 1774 with its relief of Venus and Cupid was sold in 1922. There used to be 39 paintings in this room. The Rembrandt Room. Now called the Chandos Delta Dormitory. Immediately to the east of the Breakfast Parlour, originally dated 1748, the room was extended and redecorated in 1775. In a relatively plain room, the painting that used to be in the centre of the ceiling, Venus at her toilet by Vincenzo Valdrè was sold in 1922 along with the marble chimneypiece with its central relief of Hebe and Jupiter's Eagle. The room once contained eleven paintings attributed to Rembrandt although only three are considered so now, the rest being School of Rembrandt. Also originally in this room and now in the Wallace Collection are the almost 10 feet high astronomical regulator clock by Michael Stollewerck formerly at the Palace of Versailles and a Boulle armoire. It was in this room that Queen Victoria and her husband slept during their visit, redecorated for the occasion, including the purchase of the largest Persian carpet in the country, 25.5 by 16 feet. The 2nd Duke spent £5,300 on redecorating the house and on entertaining the royal couple for a visit that lasted a few days.
The Chapel located immediately behind the Eastern Pavilion, created in 1742-48 and originally rising through two floors. The room was divided into two floors in 1929 when the new school chapel was built, all the timber panelling being reused in the new chapel. Only the plaster ceiling decoration survives, this consists of octagons, crosses and hexagons. The elaborate carved wood panelling of cedarwood came from a house in Cornwall also called Stowe. It had been carved by Michael Chuke a pupil of Grinling Gibbons. The Gothic Library is situated on the ground floor beneath the centre part of the Large Library, created in 1805. This was the last major interior to be added to the house. Designed by Sir John Soane, the plaster ceiling pattern is based on a very shallow fan vault. The plasterer was one William Rothwell, who charged £495 10 shillings & 7 pence. The centre of the ceiling contains a circular panel 4 feet 6 inches in diameter that contains 726 painted armorial bearings of the various families that the then Marquess was descended from. The wooden bookshelves include glazed bronze doors based on the bronze screen around Henry VII's tomb in Westminster Abbey. The fireplace was supplied by a brass-founder Thomas Catherwood in 1807 for £100. This room used to contain amongst other treasures 1085 Saxon & Irish manuscripts, the Saxon Manuscripts were inherited from Thomas Astle under the terms of his will in 1803 on payment of £500, the Irish manuscripts were purchased from Charles O'Conor in 1804. These are now either in the British Library or Royal Irish Academy including the Stowe Missal. The manuscripts now in the British Library include The Medieval Bestiary, Stowe MS 1067 and the Psalter, Stowe 2 (Psalter). The door from the library has on the outside a carved stone relief dated to the late 16th century, above it, of The Battle of Bosworth Field, the Gothic Staircase by the door connects the two libraries.
The Egyptian Hall created c.1803, it is situated beneath the North Hall to which it is connected by the staircase by the east wall which was inserted at this time, and was created as the winter entrance, linked to the Porte-cochère created at the same time, beneath the North Portico with ramps connecting to the forecourt to allow carriages to pick up and set down passengers under cover. Decorated in the Egyptian style of decoration. The room has inward sloping walls and a vaulted ceiling, the western end of the room has a recess flanked by two Egyptian style lotus columns that originally contained a heating stove in the form of a carved sarcophagus, removed in 1922. The frieze around the ceiling is decorated with a winged solar disk, the symbol of the god Ra and uraeus between falcon wings, alternate with Ankh the symbol of life flanked by sceptres symbols of power. There is an illuminated sun globe over the south door. Also sold in 1922 were seven canvas sepia paintings on the walls which depicted Egyptian figures and hieroglyphics and two sculptures of Sphinxes that used to be at the base of the staircase. The designer of the room is not known for certain, though Sir John Soane implied in a lecture that the 1st Marquess was responsible for the concept. In 2012 all the missing decoration and sculpture was recreated, returning the room to its original form.
The east corridor and Grand staircase. Dating from the 1730s, connects the North Hall via the south-east door with the Ante-Library, this is a relatively plain room, the stone staircase at the east end of the corridor is cantilevered from the walls and has a wrought iron balustrade, the ceiling above the staircase is painted with Fame and Victory, by Francesco Sleter, the same artist's wall paintings on the staircase no longer survive. The walls of the corridor are now lined with paintings of former headmasters of the school and in the east window above the staircase there is white marble bust. The Ante-Library. Located immediately to the north of the Large Library, created in 1805, this is really a wide corridor, about 50 feet long, and low in height, with a plain ceiling and walls, the fireplace on the east wall is a replacement for the carved marble one sold in 1922. The main feature of the room are the eight Tuscan columns of scagliola imitating Verd antique marble, the work of Domenico Bartoli. The room housed in 1838 a series of 52 family portraits.
The house contains over 400 rooms. The ground floor rooms to the east of the Gothic Library were used by the family as personal rooms including the Billiard room, Sitting room, Water closet, Manuscript room, Gun room and Plunge pool. The rest of the ground floor was given over to the service areas. The house has low wings that are set back and project from the east and west pavilions of the south front. These extend north before projecting even further east and west. The full length of the house is over 900 feet. These wings to the east included the riding school, coach houses and at the extreme east the stables designed by Vanbrugh. The west area includes the kitchen (still used as such by the school), the laundry, the dairy and at the extreme west the 138-foot-long orangery, designed by Vanbrugh. Although the Central Pavilion of the south front appears to be only two floors high, there are in fact bedrooms over the State Music & Drawing rooms, these are lit by windows facing respectively east and west. The centre is filled by the Marble Saloon which rises to the full height of the building. There are more bedrooms on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors of the north front, and the west and east pavilions of the south front, where the 2nd floor is disguised in the same way as in the central pavilion.
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 Lord Cobham. The Landscape Garden was created in three main phases, showing the development of garden design in 18th-century England (this is the only garden where all three designers worked): From 1711 to c.1735 Charles Bridgeman was the garden designer and John Vanbrugh the architect from c.1720 until his death in 1726. They designed an English baroque park, inspired by the work of London, Wise and Switzer. After Vanbrugh's death James Gibbs took over as architect in September 1726. He also worked in the English Baroque style. In 1731 William Kent was appointed to work with Bridgeman, whose last designs are dated 1735 after which Kent took over as the garden designer. Kent had already created the glorious garden at Rousham House, and he and Gibbs built temples, bridges, and other garden structures. Kent's masterpiece at Stowe is the Elysian Fields with its Temple of Ancient Virtue that looks across to his Temple of British Worthies. Kent's architectural work was in the newly fashionable Palladian style. In March 1741, Capability Brown was appointed head gardener. He worked with Gibbs until 1749 and with Kent until the latter's death in 1748. Brown departed in the autumn of 1751 to start his independent career as a garden designer. In these years, Bridgeman's octagonal pond and 11-acre lake were extended and given a "naturalistic" shape, and a Palladian bridge was added in 1744, probably to Gibbs's design. Brown contrived a Grecian valley which, despite its name, is an abstract composition of landform and woodland, and developed the Hawkwell Field, with Gibbs's most notable building, the Gothic Temple. As Loudon remarked in 1831, "nature has done little or nothing; man a great deal, and time has improved his labours".
There are two main entrances to the Park, the Grand Avenue, from Buckingham to the south and the Oxford Avenue from the south-west, which leads to the forecourt of the house. The Grand Avenue was created in the 1770s, 100 feet (30 m) in width and one and half miles in length, lined originally with elm trees. The elms succumbed in the 1970s to Dutch elm disease and were replaced with alternate beech & chestnut trees. The Grand Avenue by the Corinthian Arch turns to the west to join the Queen's Drive that connects to the Oxford Avenue just below the Boycott Pavilions. The Oxford Avenue was planted in the 1790s, and sold to the National Trust in 1985 by the great-great grandson of the 3rd Duke, Robert Richard Grenville Close-Smith (1936-1992), a local landowner. The Buckingham Lodges. These are over three miles due south of the centre of the House. Probably designed by Vincenzo Valdrè and dated 1805, they flank the southern entrance to the Grand Avenue.
The Corinthian Arch, designed in 1765 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford, Lord Temple's cousin. Built from stone 60 feet in height and 60 feet wide, it is modelled on ancient Roman triumphal arches. 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 and 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 four-storey residences originally for game-keepers. The flanking Tuscan columns were added in 1780. The New Inn situated about 100 metres to the east of the Corinthian Arch. Built in 1717 specifically to provide accommodation for visitors to the gardens, the red brick Inn included a mini brewery where barley was brewed into beer, a farm and dairy. The Inn closed in the 1850s, it then being used as a farm, smithy and kennels for deer hounds. The building was purchased in a ruinous condition by the National Trust in 2005. In 2010 work started on converting it into the new visitor centre, and since 2011 this has been the entrance for visitors to the gardens. They formerly used The Oxford Gates. The New Inn is linked by the Bell Gate Drive to the Bell Gate next to the eastern Lake Pavilion, so called because visitors had to ring the bell by the gate to gain admittance to the Garden. The Water Stratford Lodge is located over a mile from the house near the border with Oxfordshire, at the very start of the Oxford Avenue, by the village of the same name. Built in 1843, the single storey lodge is in Italianate style with a porch flanked by two windows, the dressings are of stone, with rendered walls. The architect was Edward Blore.
The Oxford Gates. The central piers were designed by William Kent in 1731, for a position to the north-east[clarification needed], 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 manufactured by Eleanor Coade. The Oxford Bridge, built in 1761 to cross the river Dad after this had been dammed to form what was renamed the Oxford Water, was probably designed by Earl Temple. It is built of stone and is of hump-backed form, with three arches, the central one being slightly wider and higher than the flanking ones. With a solid parapet, there are eight decorative urns placed at the ends of the parapets and above the two piers. The Boycott Pavilions; built of stone and designed by James Gibbs, the eastern one built in 1728 and the western in 1729. They are named after the nearby vanished hamlet of Boycott. 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 roof lantern in the centre. The eastern pavilion was converted into a three storey house in 1952.
The forecourt, located in front of the north facade of the house, has in its centre The Statue of George I a greater than life size equestrian statue of King George I by Andries Carpentière made of cast lead in 1723. It is on a tall stone plinth. The South Vista. This includes the tree-flanked 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. This is the oldest area of the gardens. There were walled gardens on the site of the south lawn from the 1670s that belonged to the old house. These gardens were altered in the 1680s when the house was rebuilt on the present site. They were again remodelled by Bridgeman from 1716. The lawns with the flanking woods took on their current character from 1741 when 'Capability' Brown re-landscaped this area. The buildings in this area are: The Doric Arch of stone erected in 1768 for the visit of Princess Amelia, probably to the design of Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford, is a simple arch 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 over 30 feet high that supports the Portland stone sculpture of the King which is a copy of the statue sold in 1921. The pillar has this inscription from Horace's Ode 15, Book IV. The Lake Pavilions; 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 are 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, work started on this area of the gardens in 1734. The area covers about 40 acres. There is a series of buildings and monuments surrounding two narrow lakes, called the river Styx, that step down to a branch of the Octagon Lake. The adoption of the name alludes to Elysium, and the monuments in this area are to the virtuous dead of both Britain and ancient Greece. The main species of trees originally planted included alder, elm, chestnut and pine also ivy was planted and encouraged to grow over dead tree-trunks to create a suitable melancholy mood. The buildings in this area are: Saint Mary's Church – located in the woods between the House and the Elysian Fields is Stowe parish church. This is the only surviving structure from the old village of Stowe. Dating from the 14th century, the building consists of a nave with aisles and a west tower, a chancel with a chapel to the north and an east window c. 1300 with reticulated tracery. Lancelot "Capability" Brown was married in the church in 1744. The church contains a fine Sir Laurence Whistler CBE etched glass window in memory of The Hon. Mrs. Thomas Close-Smith of Boycott Manor, eldest daughter of the 11th Lady Kinloss, who was the eldest daughter of the 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. The Temple of Ancient Virtue; 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 are 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 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 contains a bust of Mercury, a copy of the original. 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 Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, John Hampden and Sir John Barnard (Whig MP and opponent of the Whig Prime Minister 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 choice of who was considered a 'British Worthy' was very much influenced by the Whig politics of the family, the chosen individuals falling into two groups, eight known for their actions and eight known for their thoughts and ideas.
The Shell Bridge designed by Kent, and finished by 1739, is actually a dam disguised as a bridge of five arches and is decorated with shells. The Grotto, probably designed by Kent in the 1730s, is located at the head of the serpentine 'river Styx' that flows through the Elysian Fields. There are two pavilions, one ornamented with shells the other with pebbles and flints. In the central room is a circular recess in which are two basins of white marble. In the upper is a marble statue of Venus rising from her bath, and water falls from the upper into the lower basin, there passing under the floor to the front, where it falls into the river Styx. A tablet of marble is inscribed with lines from Milton. The Seasons Fountain, 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 Grenville Column originally erected in 1749 near the Grecian Valley, it was moved to its present location in 1756; Earl Temple probably designed it. 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 Cook Monument was 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 Hawkwell Field was developed in the 1730s & 1740s, an open area surrounded by some of the larger buildings including: The Gothic Temple, 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 storeys with a pentagonal shaped tower at each corner, one of which rises two floors higher than the main building, while the other two towers have lanterns on their roofs. Above the door is a quote from Pierre Corneille's play Horace. The interior includes a circular room of two storeys covered by a shallow dome that is painted to mimic mosaic work including shields representing the Heptarchy. Dedicated 'To the Liberty of our Ancestors'. To quote John Martin Robinson: 'to the Whigs, Saxon and Gothic were interchangeably associated with freedom and ancient English liberties: trial by jury (erroneously thought to have been founded by King Alfred at a moot on Salisbury Plain), Magna Carta, parliamentary representation, all the things which the Civil War and Glorious Revolution had protected from the wiles of Stuart would-be absolutism, and to the preservation of which Lord Cobham and his 'Patriots' were seriously devoted.' The Pebble Alcove, 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, this is a copy of the large stone urn known as the Chatham Vase carved in 1780 by John Bacon. It was placed in 1831 on a small island in the Octagon Lake. It is a memorial to William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham former Prime Minister, who was a relative of the Temple family. Congreve's Monument 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 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 inscriptions. The Temple of Friendship built of stone in 1739 to the designs of Gibbs. It is located in the south-east corner of the garden. 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. 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 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. It was 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 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 originally designed by Gibbs in 1742 and was then called the Lady's Temple. 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. The architect was probably Thomas Pitt, the portico is based on the Maison Carrée. Further alterations were made in 1790 by Vincenzo Valdrè to commemorate George III recovering from madness with the help of Queen Charlotte after whom the building was renamed. The main floor is raised 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. The Temple has been used for over 40 years by the School as its Music School. The Saxon Deities; 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. They are arranged in a circle. Each sculpture (with the exception of Sunna a half length sculpture) is life size, the base of each statue has a Runic inscription of the god's name, and stands on a plinth. They are: Sunna (Sunday), Mona (Monday), Tiw (Tuesday), Woden (Wednesday), Thuner (Thursday), Friga (Friday) and a Saxon version of Seatern (Saturday).
The Lamport Gardens. Lying to the east of the Eastern Gardens, and named after the vanished hamlet of Lamport, the gardens were created from 1826 by Richard Temple-Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos and his gardener James Brown, from 1840 2nd Duke of Buckingham's gardener Mr Ferguson and the architect Edward Blore as an ornamental rock and water garden. The buildings in this area are: The Chinese House, known to date from 1738 making it the first known building in England built in the Chinese style. It is 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. The Lamport Lodge this uniquely for the gardens red brick lodge, in a Tudor Gothic style, with two bay windows either side of porch and is a remodelling of 1840-1 by Blore of an earlier building. It acts as an entrance through the ha-ha. There are three sets of iron gates, that consists of one carriage and two flanking pedestrian entrances. They lead to an avenue of Beech trees planted in 1941 that lead to the Gothic Temple.
The Grecian valley is to the north of the Eastern Garden. Designed by Capability Brown and created from 1747 to 1749, this is Brown's first known landscape design. An L-shaped area of lawns covering about 60 acres was formed by excavating 23,500 cubic yards of earth by hand and removed in wheelbarrows with the original intention of creating a lake. Mature Lime and Elm trees were transplanted from elsewhere on the estate to create a mature landscape. Other tree species that Brown used in this and other areas of the gardens include: Cedar, Yew, Beech, Sycamore, Larch & Scots Pine. The buildings in this area are: The Temple of Concord and Victory, The Fane of Pastoral Poetry, The Circle of the Dancing Faun and the Cobham Monument.
The western garden is to the immediate west of the South Vista, including the Eleven-Acre Lake. This area of the gardens was developed from 1712 to 1770s when it underwent its final landscaping. The Eleven-acre lake was extended and given a natural shape in 1752. The buildings in this area are: The Rotondo; The Statue of Queen Caroline; Temple of Venus; The Hermitage; Dido's Cave; The Artificial Ruins & The Cascade and The Menagerie. This last was built by the Marquess of Buckingham for his wife as a retreat. The 1st Duke converted it to display stuffed animals, including a 32 feet long Boa constrictor and 10,000 geological specimens that he acquired in 1819 at the sale of William Bullock's collection, these were all sold in the 1848 sale. 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. There used to be a formal rectangular flower garden in front of the building, but it is now covered by tennis courts.
The park surrounds the gardens. The house's kitchen garden, extensively rebuilt by the 2nd Duke, was located at Dadford about 2/3 of mile north of the house. Only a few remains of the three walled gardens now exist, but originally they were divided into four and centred around fountains. There is evidence of the heating system: cast iron pipes used to heat greenhouses, which protected the fruit and vegetables, including then-exotic fruits, like peaches. Buildings in the park include: Stowe Castle, The Bourbon Tower, The 2nd Duke's Obelisk near the Bourbon Tower, The Wolfe Obelisk, The Gothic Umbrello also called the Conduit House and the Silverstone Lodges, built by the 1st Duke, these twin lodges used to flank the northern entrance to the park, and used to lead to the private carriage drive from Silverstone to the house. The drive no longer exists, this having long since been destroyed, part of it passed through what is now the racing circuit.
There is step-free access when arriving via the National Trust Garden or via the private Stowe School entrance to the House. Once inside the House all rooms on the visitor route are accessible. They have two accessible toilets on the ground floor of the House. The accessible toilet within the House Welcome Centre is a left transfer. The accessible toilet in the centre of the House is a right transfer. The Tour Guides are very happy to tailor their tour to your requirements. Although they do not currently have a tactile tour the team are happy to indicate objects which are safe to touch. There is an audio tour available for ipod. They have two platform lifts: Lift one operates between the South Front outside ground level and the internal ground floor level in the Welcome Centre. Lift two operates inside the house between the ground floor and the first floor of the House. Assistance dogs are welcome. The gardens of the National Trust Stowe are partly accessible: they include uneven and hard gravel paths, steep slopes, and are slightly hilly. The New Inn is the National Trust's Visitor Centre at Stowe and houses the café, shop and toilets. There is plenty of accessible car parking at New Inn. The welcome area, café, shop and toilets are fully accessible. Due to the historic nature of the building some of the restored Parlour Rooms within New Inn have limited access.
Location : Stowe House, Stowe, Buckingham, MK18 5EH
Transport : Milton Keynes (National Rail) then bus (X60, X5) OR Bicester North (National Rail) then bus (X5). Bus Routes : Stagecross Express X5 and X60 stop in Buckingham (3 miles by taxi).
Opening Times House: Sunday to Friday 11:00 to 17:00
Opening Times Gardens: Daily 10:00 to 18:00
Tickets House: Adults £6.20; Children (under 16) and Carers Free
Tickets Gardens: Adults £11.20; Children £5.60
Tel. : 01280 818002
Tel. NT: 01280 817156