Someone – I don’t know who – has described Stourhead as ‘the most bewitching and beautiful of this country’s landscaped gardens’. I met Mary off the train at Castle Cary Station on Wednesday in lovely autumn sunshine. By the time we had driven to the National Trust property, had our obligatory coffee and lengthy natter, the sun had disappeared. But it remained very mild, and dry, and grey – sometimes very grey – for the rest of the day.
We walked to the Palladian house, built by the son of the founder of Hoare’s bank, and passed this gate and lodge on the way.
We spent an hour or so looking round the house, full of treasures, and still inhabited by the members of the Hoare family, though gifted by them, along with the garden and half the estate, to the National Trust in 1947. I have to commend the help of the room guides – two of them especially since by total coincidence I had made their acquaintance in an entirely different context just two days previously!
But it is the landscaped garden for which Stourhead is famed. And the best time to visit is the autumn as the leaves are turning. Or the spring when the flowers are in bloom. Here are the best of the photos I took, in poor light conditions sadly. There in person, we scarcely noticed the light, since the views and the colours were so wonderful.
It was the grandson of the bank founder who oversaw the creation of the garden and the building of its classical follies which we so enjoy today.
We drove back to the station as it was getting dark, and as we emerged from a road which went across the remains of the Hoare estate, still in private hands, we caught a glimpse of the sun again.