Stourhead House
18th century

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

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Stourhead House was built in 1721-4 by the banker Henry Hoare I. He was married to the sister of William Benson of Wilbury House, the earliest essay in England in the revival of the style of Inigo Jones, i.e. of neo-Palladianism. Stourhead is one of the very next, and it is in a much purer Palladian. It was designed by Colen Campbell and built in 1721-4. The wings were added much later, in 1792-1804, and the portico, part of the Campbell design, came yet later, in 1841. ...

Campbell considered Andrea Palladio (Italy, 16th century) as the true heir to the Roman architect Vitruvius. He adapted the design of Palladio's Villa Emo of 1564 to an English setting. Compared to the Baroque houses of, for example, Vanbrugh (e.g. Blenheim Palace), the new English Palladian villas of the 18th century were very simple and restrained and more strictly classical. 

The famous grounds were begun about 1744 by Henry Hoare's son - see separate page.

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The house faces E. It is of five widely-spaced bays with a rusticated base, one main floor, and a half-storey above. Balustraded top with lead figures. (Note: The lead figures came from the Temple of Apollo. Campbell's design had urns only. - See Temple of Apollo, also called Temple of the Sun, in Stourhead Grounds). The windows also formerly had balustrades. The centre has a projecting tetrastyle portico of unfluted composite columns and a pediment with a raised attic behind. Two arms of a staircase lead up to it. The later wings are lower, also of one and a half storeys (library to the south, picture gallery to the north). Their top balustrade was added after 1902.

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Detail of the east front

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 The view to the Downs is very fine.

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The centre of the house was gutted by fire in 1902. The rooms were reconstructed from photographs, ... The S front was originally of nine bays, with a central Venetian window. It has now two bays longer to the W, 

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as after 1902 the W front was redesigned with two projecting wings and a recessed centre with the upper part set further back still behind columns and pediment. The architect were Doran Webb and Aston Webb. ...

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Detail of the west front

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Extending from the south front the library extension of the 1790s.

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View to the west of the Obelisk of 1746-7 (rebuilt 1839-40, restored 1853). A long, straight ride approaching it from the south. The summit and the plaque.

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The picture gallery extension to the north of the 1790s, and the north front.

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Gatehouse at the foot of the hill (to the east). Castellated,  with a Gothic arch. Rounded turrets with oval windows. According to the Stourhead Annals 1799-1800, a rebuilding of a gateway that had stood by the stables. Next to the gatehouse a Gothic lodge.

Stourhead Grounds

Stourhead Church


National Trust  Website for Stourhead
including opening times and visitor information

Chiswick House
another Palladian villa at Astoft 

About Palladian Architecture
at Wikipedia

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