For Today’s Doorscursion I am taking you to Stourhead! Now a National Trust property, this 600 acre property is located at the source of the River Stour in the southwest of the English county of Wiltshire and extends into Somerset. Here we are at the gatekeep……..quite impressive don’t you think?
Going on in we find the gatekeeper’s cottage…… I could live there…..no problem…..
and looking back at the gate there is a clock so you know what time it is when you leave the estate, I guess…….
from this angle you can see the extended walls around the estate and part of the many walking paths all over it………
But, let’s walk on up to the manor house………
The story of Stourhead starts with all the Henrys and Richards in the Hoare family, who had nicknames of “good, “magnificent,” and “naughty,” to tell them apart. Sir Richard Hoare was a goldsmith in London in 1673, and goldsmiths needed storerooms for the cash and valuables brought to them. This storage started the banking system: storing the gold and lending their customers money, for interest. Sir Richard was granted The Freedom of Goldsmith’s Company and this marked the foundation of the Hoare’s Bank. He was knighted by Queen Anne in 1702 and then he went on to become the Lord Mayor of London in 1712. His son, Good Henry, was a partner in the family bank. Henry, the Good, lived in the bank in London, during the week, and wanted a country estate for holidays and leisure. In 1717, he bought the medieval Stourton estate for 14,000 pounds and renamed it Stourhead, after the source of the Stour River. He based the estate on a 16th century Venetian villa, but died before his grand vision for the estate and garden was complete. Henry Hoare, the Magnificent, the son of Henry the Good, dominated the family with his wealth and personal charisma and was a great patron of the arts. By 1770, the gardens and estate were completed and its fame quickly caught on. Stourhead became the must-see place with the breathtaking landscape and classical temples all set around a lake. The grounds included a Grotto, Gothic Cottages, the Pantheon, the Temple of Apollo and the temple of Flora……… now for a look of the back, where construction is going on…. The Featured Photo reveals the front of the manor House…..
Sir Henry Ainslie Hoare, the Naughty, and his wife Augusta, inherited Stourhead in 1883, but it soon spiraled into decay when costs grew impossible to manage. Ainslie preferred the city and his flamboyant lifestyle, while Augusta remained at Stourhead. Eventually, Henry’s actions forced him to leave the bank and the furnishings, paintings and books from Stourhead were auctioned off. They left the estate in 1885.
After the death of his cousin, Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare and his wife Alda, inherited the unoccupied house that had sat empty for ten years and the entire garden estate that had been neglected for just as long. They picked up and moved from their home, Waverdom, in Buckinghamshire and moved, with only son, Harry, to Stourhead, to create a special home once again. They worked diligently to restore the estate and make it the beauty it once had been. We toured the inside of the house, but I won’t show that today………To say it is stunning is an understatement…….
In 1902, a fire broke out in the chimney and the center of the house collapsed from the attic down to the cellars. The family, servants, gardeners, estate workers and farm hands worked to salvage as much as possible from the burning building. Paintings were cut from their frames and furniture was thrown from the windows. They again set out to restore the house for Harry, who absolutely loved every part of the estate.
In 1914, Harry joined the Dorset Yeomanry and within a week he was no longer the estate manager, working for his father, but a soldier fighting for his country. His military career was plagued with injury and ill health and every time he was taken ill he was sent home to Stourhead to recover. After each recovery he returned to the battlefield. During WWI the house and grounds were opened for “tommies” from the nearby Red Cross Hospital at Mere. Probably one of the reasons that Harry was allowed to recuperate there. Alda had turned outbuildings into rooms for the soldiers and they were allowed to fish and do other activities on the estate, while returning to health. All food, grapes, vegetables and flowers grown there, were also sent to support the troops at the hospital.
Here are some of the outbuildings today……..they were my favorites!
and these attached cottages were used for the men also…….
On December 19th, 1917, Captain Henry Holt Arthur Hoare (Harry) was shot in the lungs at the Battle of Mugher in Palastine and died of his wounds. He was buried in the Hadra Hill Military Cemetery in Alexandria. His parents were devastated and made plans to bequeath the estate and grounds to charity, opening the estate to visitors. On opening days, the butler or head housemaid would show the guests around! ….. In 1946 , the estate was spilt in half and part was gifted to the National Trust and the other half remains in family ownership. Hoare and Co. is the oldest private bank in the United Kingdom . The bank at 37 Fleet Street, is still there today, and is run by the 11th generation of Hoare’s direct descendants. This National Trust Property is preserving history…..
Visiting this extraordinary National Trust property, was made so much more interesting, when learning about the family, the house and the grounds! I hope you have enjoyed my Doors today!
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PS I’m also posting this today for the Life In Color Challenge: Green