The Stately Homes of England – Part 5
I visited Stowe on a perfect spring day in May 2017. I’d long wanted to see this masterpiece of English landscape design and I wasn’t at all disappointed. It’s a place that more than justifies all the hype about being the perfect romantic landscape. The gardens were created by those geniuses of English design, William Kent and Capability Brown, and feature a wonderful array of exotic temples and follies, including a Temple of British Worthies (honoring people like Shakespeare and Alexander Pope), a Palladian bridge, and a charming Chinese pavilion.
There’s also a magnificent country house on the property which is now a school, although you can do a guided tour. Well, you can do a guided tour if they’re not getting ready for speech day the way they were the day we were there. We did however get to visit the information center which has some fascinating information about the family that created this glorious site. A little like the Beauclerk family who owned Lydiard House (My Favorite Things February 2018), a hard-won family fortune was squandered by an extravagant father and son addicted to spending, in this case, though, to collecting rare art and plants. Although I suspect wild women and debauched living might have also had their part to play in the downfall of the Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville family (whew, I’d hate to be embroidering that on all the family linen!). All came to a humiliating end in 1845 when most of the estate and all of its contents were sold to pay back the accrued debts amounting to over £100,000,000 in today’s money – and no, I didn’t accidentally add a few extra zeros there.
Anyway, it’s time to let the pictures do the talking. Personally I think that hundred mill was spent to great effect!