Friday, 6 September 2013


I’ve got a few posts coming up that I’ve been sat on.  Sorry and all that.  I’m just not feeling the blog love lately. was my birthday recently and I decided I fancied getting out of London for a few days, so went with the chap to stay at his mum’s house in Hemel Hempstead.  I grew up not far away, in Hatfield, but as a child I never realised how many amazing places were just a short drive away.  To me it was all supermarkets and concrete....  Spoilt for choice it took me some time to decide what to do on the day and after going through a huge list of options we decided to visit Stowe House, a stately home in landscaped gardens just over in Buckinghamshire.

Stowe House and gardens was the brainchild of Richard Temple, the 1st Viscount Cobham, though the land had already been in the family for some time. 

The grounds have been through various incarnations – its fussy gardens, which enchanted the poet Pope in 1731 being swept away by Capability Brown just 10 years later to make way for the majestic rolling landscape that remains.

To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
To rear the Column, or the Arch to bend,
To swell the Terras, or to sink the Grot;
In all, let Nature never be forgot.
But treat the Goddess like a modest fair,
Nor over-dress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty ev'ry where be spy'd,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points who pleasingly confounds
Surprises, varies, and conceals the Bounds.
Consult the Genius of the Place in all;
That tells the Waters or to rise, or fall,
Or helps th' ambitious Hill the heav'n to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the Vale,
Calls in the Country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks or now directs th' intending Lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
Still follow Sense, of ev'ry Art the Soul,
Parts answ'ring parts shall slide into a whole,
Spontaneous beauties all around advance,
Start ev'n from Difficulty, strike from Chance;
Nature shall join you, Time shall make it grow
A Work to wonder at--perhaps a STOWE

The house itself was completely reworked in the Victorian era, with the express purpose of impressing the Queen herself.  The 2nd Duke of Buckingham got himself over 1.5 million pounds into debt doing so, and her Majesty only stayed for three nights.  Following this disaster all moveable assests were sold and the house closed up until his death. 

There were a few attempts to sell the place throughout the early 20th Century but sadly no takers and so in another auction in 1922 most of the statuary was sold.  There were concerns that the house would have to be demolished until it became a private school, it remains so to this day, a very exclusive school to say the least.  Restoration of the house was begun in begun in 2000 and is still happening.

Here are some more pictures of its 250 acres of temples, lakes and follies:

I do love a stately home and a landscaped garden.  What is your favourite grand house?


  1. What a beautiful place! Thank you for sharing. I am actually moving to Southampton in a few weeks so I am definitely going to visit this place!

  2. Everything looks so magnificent; I live in the U.S. but I would love to visit someday.
    And happy belated birthday to you!

  3. Mine is Polsden Lacey and no mistake. I am also rather partial to a dash of Hatfield House :)