Stourhead, Wiltshire - The Pleasure Grounds
18th century

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Notes in italics from Wiltshire by Nikolaus Pevsner Revised by Bridget Cherry (1975)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London

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The grounds of Stourhead House were begun in 1744 by Henry Hoare II, twenty years after the house was built by his father.
The church and churchyard have - with unmatched success - been made part of the picturesque composition. The lawn runs up to them and links them to the lake, and the Pantheon faces them challengingly. ... The five-arch-bridge, built in 1762 ...    

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By turning r. one gets to the Temple of flora, built in 1745 by Henry Flitcroft. This has a tetrastyle portico of Tuscan columns with metope frieze and pediment, and inside, one room. ... Below the temple a rocky arch, originally with a statue of a River God, and an Urn ...

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On the opposite side of the lake the celebrated Grotto, a tripartite structure which was building in 1748. ... In the centre the Sleeping Nymph or Nymph of the Grot, with the appropriate quotation from Pope's translation of Huius nympha loci. Tufa-lined walls, pebble floors. In a separate structure at the end John Cheere's River God of 1751.  Framed views across the lake to the bridge and church.

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The largest of the buildings, the Pantheon. The Pantheon was under construction in 1753. Its designer was Flitcroft. It has a portico of four Corinthian columns in antis, closed bays to the l. and r. with statues in pedimented niches. These closed bays screen the junction between portico and rotunda more successfully than the original temple in Rome. Through iron gates one enters an anteroom then the rotunda (not shown). ...

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The left-hand closed bay, and the sculptures in the two niches.

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On the S side of the lake ... the Temple of the Sun higher up, a rotunda, designed by Flicroft after the original at Balbec which had been published by Wood in 1757. The Stourhead temple was completed in 1767.Like its original, it is a rotunda with detached Corinthian columns and an entablature curving vigorously back between each pair. The present domed top is recent. The dome was originally flatter. 

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The statues are copies. The originals are now on the roof of the house and on the terrace outside the Saloon. ...

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On a mound on the lawn W of the church stands the Bristol High Cross, given to Hoare in 1764 ... The cross dates from 1373 and consists of a tall lowest stage with shallow niches (evidently altered), crocketed ogee gables, four detached buttresses, 

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four standing figures, originally coloured, at the next stage, 

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then four seated figures added in 1633,
and at the top a square pinnacle.

Stourhead House

Stourhead Church

National Trust  Website for Stourhead
including opening times and visitor information



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