Stowe House is a Grade I listed Country house in England and is a home of Stowe School, an independent school owned and managed by the preservation trust of Stowe House. Located in Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England more than £25m were spent on the restoration of the house.
Stowe House is open to public for only 280 days a year only for tours during the holidays and during term time, but you can visit the parkland surrounding the garden is opened every day.
In the late nineteen century, the house was completely refurbished and rebuilt by Sir Richard Temple and today this beautiful house is a core of the mansion it is known today.
- 1 Architectural History
- 2 South Facade
- 3 Major Interiors
- 4 Stowe Landscape Gardens
- 5 Stowe House Ground Plan
The Stowe House which is known today is a result of four main periods of developments which areIn 1677 to 1683, the central block of the building was constructed under the supervision of Sir Richard Temple who was an administrator in British India and British politician.
- In 1677 to 1683, the central block of the building was constructed under the supervision of Sir Richard Temple who was an administrator in British India and British politician.
The architecture was designed by William Cleare who also worked for Sir Christopher Wren as his chief junior. The four floored brick house (including the basement) was thirteen bays in length.
- The second major development was seen during 172s under Viscount Cobham which includes the addition of Iconic North tetrastyle Portico which was designed by John Vanbrugh. Along with that, there were major rebuilding in north, west and east fronts. But all the construction work was not completed and after the death of John Vanbrugh in 1726, the same work was continued by one of the renowned architect Willaim Kent.
With the help of Willam Kent, the design of two-tier south portico was completed but later it was demolished. The South portico consist of four Tuscan columns along with four composite columns above.
- in 1740-1760, the expansion was made of both the western and the eastern state apartments under Viscount
- During the time of 1770, the design of the south front of the house was completely changed. It was Earl Temple who first obtained the new designs from Jacques-Francois Blondel. But due to some problems with the designs of the house, Earl did not approve them.
it was Robert Adam who proposed the new designs of the south front in the year of 1711 to Earl and finally, the designs were accepted. There were slight changes in designs by Thomas Pitt and with the assistance of Giovanni Battista Borra and the construction work finished in 1779.
Although the interior designs and works were not completed till 1788. Much of the interior designing work began by an Italian Vincenzo Valdre. The north side of the house was also remodeled at the same time which includes the erection of two twin quadrant colonnades of iconic columns that flank the facade.
The north end of the colonnades is linked to screen walls which contain gateways built by architect William Kent that was later moved. The east gateways lead to a stable court located in the west of the kitchen court.
No significant changes can be seen in the exterior design of the house since 1799 although some changes were made in the first decade of the 19 century. During this time, the Egyptian Hall was added beneath the North Portico which is also used as a second entrance.
The south facade is the showpiece of the house overlooking the gardens. This is one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in Britain. The main front of the house stretches over 460 feet (140 metres). The front can be divided into five major sections which are: the central block which is 130 feet wide, the lower linking section that is 23 metres wide. This section contains Dining Room on the west side and on the east, a huge library.
The height of library is same as that of a central block about 90 feet in width. Both pavilions and central blocks are architecture at piano nobile level and used unfluted Corinthian pilasters having a height of almost 35 feet. There are 48 ionic columns that runs the length of the facade having a height of 20 feet (6.1 meters).
The portico fronts a loggia containing doorways to the Marble Saloon flanked by large niches that were used to contain ancient Roman statues. There is a marble sculpture of Vertumnus and Nicholas Rivets Antiquities of Athens frieze on the Choragic Monument of Lysicratees.
The staircase has solid parapets located on the either side of it that end in the sculpture of Medici Lions standing and resting their one paw on a ball. Two tripartite windows can be seen on each side of the portico separated by columns enclosed with an arch containing carved portland stone tondo.
The facade of Stowe house is surmounted by a balustraded parapet. In the year of 1790, a balustrade was added parallel to the facade that runs from bottom to the full height of the house and then returns at both the ends. There is series of 30 pedestals along balustrade wich were later trapped by bronze urns.
In the year of 1922, all the artworks were auctioned which were not sold in 1848. Some of the family associates and portraits were brought back and are now displayed in the Stowe House. The 1st Duke before inheriting Stowe brought paintings from sales of Orleans Collection held in the year of 1798 and later continued to buy paintings, books, engravers as well as archaeological specimens.
On the first floor, main rooms are located and some rooms are located on the ground floors. Major rooms contain;
The North Hall
Located behind the north portico, North hall is the main entrance hall and is least changed room since the 1730s. The ceilings of the room have a deep cove which was painted by architect William Kent in grisaille on gold background mosaic.
Inside the room, there are six classical deities which are depicted in cove Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Apollo, Saturn and Diana. The center of the ceiling is enclosed by a beam of plastic within which encloses a square with a circle and within the circle is a painting of Mars. There is a large set of doors in the center of south wall which leads into the Marble Saloon.
The west wall has Thomas Bank’s white Marble relief of caractacus placed above the fireplace.
The State Music Room
Located to the east of Marble Saloon, the State Music room is 30 by 40 ft room which was designed by Veldre whose design was finished in the early 1780s. There are doors at each end of the side walls although only northern pair doors are real whereas the other two doors are just to confuse and are fake.
The walls of the rooms are painted with panels which are in the form of Grotesques and Arabesques. A white marble stone chimney can be seen on in the center of the east wall with the panels of Roso Antico marble. The chimneypiece was sold in the year of 1922 but was later brought back in 1991.
The ceilings are made of plaster having gilt moulded decoration and seven inset paintings. Central painting is circular in shape and is of The Dance of the Hours after Guido Reni.
The Marble saloon
Marble Saloon is the grandest interior of the Stowe House located behind the south Portico. The design of the room is unique having an elliptical plan with dimensions 63 by 53 feet. The room was designed by Vicenzo Valdre having a domed ceiling of height 17 metres.
The decoration of the room was completed in the year of 1788 whereas the original structure was completed in 1775. The lower end of the room is covered with 16 unfluted Roman Doric columns mainly made of red scagliola.
The floor of the room is made of 72 four-foot-square slabs made of white Carrara marble resting on a brick vault. This was the first room which was fully restored to its earlier condition that was in the year of 1848.
Located at the east of State Music Room is a library room having dimensions 75 by 25 feet. The flat center of the ceiling has decorations with elaborate cornice supporting a deep coffered cove at each corner of the ceiling. At the center of each end wall, there are chimney pieces made of white marbles with flanking caryatides.
The walls of the Library room are completely covered by the shelving, the upper shelves are accessed by the galleries running around east, North and West. Over 20,000 volumes of books are kept on these shelves.
Some major interiors also include State Drawing room, The Blue Room, The Garter Room, State Dining room, and The Rembrandt Room
Stowe Landscape Gardens
Stowe had an early-baroque garden owing more to Italy than to France. In relatively short time, Stowe was known for its magnificent gardens that were created by Lord Cobham. These Landscape gardens were created in mainly three faces which are;
John Vanbrugh was the architect whereas Charles Bridgeman was a designer of gardens. Until his death from 1720, John Vanbrugh designed an English baroque park, Both the architects were inspired by the work of London, Wise, and Switzer. In September 1726, James Gibbs took over as an architect after a death of Vanbrugh and worked mainly in style of English Baroque.
In the year of 1731, William Kent was asked to work with Bridgeman and after taking a look at the designs and plan of the gardens, Kent took over the designing part. Gibbs and Kent together built temples, bridges, and other garden structures.
Capability Brown was later appointed the head of the gardens in the year of 1741, who also worked with Gibbs until 1750 and with William Kent until his death. Bridgeman octagonal pond and a11 acres lake were further extended and given a beautiful naturalistic shape.
The main divisions of the garden are;
The Buckingham Lodgings
Located over three miles due south from the center of the house, The Buckingham Lodges was probably designed by Vincenzo Valdre in the year of 1805.
The Corinthian Arch
Designed by Thomas Pitt in 1765, the Corinthian Arch was built from the stone of height 60 feet and 60 feet wide, it is modelled on ancient Roman triumphal arches. It is located at the northern end of Grand Avenue at a distance of one and a half mile due south. The arch contains two storey residences mainly for game-keepers.
The New Inn
Situated at 100 metres due east of Corinthian Arch, The Inn was built in 1717 mainly to provide accommodation for the visitors who visit to see the beauty of gardens. Made of red brick Inn includes mini brewery where barley was brewed into beer, dairy, and a firm.
The Water Stratford Lodge
Located at a mile from the center of the house situated near the border with Oxfordshire, It is a single storey lodge built in 1843 is an Italianate style having a porch flanked by two windows. The water Stratford Lodge has dressings made of stones, made of rendered walls. It was designed by architect Edward Blore.
The Boycott Pavilions
The Boycott Pavilions was designed by architect James Gibbs and was built of stones. The Eastern side of the Pavilion was built in 1728 whereas the other side was built in 1729. The name was given after the nearby vanished hamlet of Boycott.
The Boycott Pavilions is located on the brow of a hill overlooking the famous river Dad, that flanked the Oxford drive. Originally both of them were in the shape of square planned open belvederes having stone pyramidical roofs. But they were altered later by the architect Giovanni Battista Borra and replacing them with the domes made of the lead having a round dormer window in each face and at the center an open roof lantern.