Stourhead : Henry Hoare\'s Paradise Revisited



Dudley Dodd
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Cross the south lawn at Stourhead and enter the leafy embrace of the Shades. Descend through the ancient and rare trees, and as the ground falls away a great lake appears. It is punctuated with classical temples, and a great arched bridge lunges to the other side of the water. Continue on and you will find a mystical, jagged grotto; a gothic hideaway; gods, muses and saints. This is how Henry Hoare – known as Henry the Magnificent – would have approached the garden he designed with Henry Flitcroft. It truly is an English arcadia. Perhaps he imagined himself as a journeying Aeneas, or wished to recreate a Claude Lorrain landscape? This is the history of a unique landscape, created in a misty Wiltshire valley by generations of the Hoare banking family. It follows its evolution, describing how flights of folly, individual flair and tastes, combined with careful stewardship, have formed a national treasure and one of the finest examples of the English landscape garden.


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