A work colleague and I have just had a weekend hotel break in Buckingham. Included in the package were National Trust entrance tickets to Stowe Landscape Gardens. The weather was not wonderful, but it kept dry for us, although as you will see in some of the photos, the skies were black and ominous.
We arrived just as it opened at 10:30 and the car park was already full of families and their children, unpacking bikes and gearing themselves up for bike rides. I am not surprised either, the scenery is fantastic and the paths and trails around the parkland were varied and extensive. The lady in the NT shop was so helpful, and guided us around a map, carefully pointing out various interest spots and emphatic that we did not forget to stop and turned around to look behind us.
Stowe is a fine Georgian landscape garden extending over 400 acres with valleys and vistas, lakes and rivers and everywhere you look there are 18th Century temples and monuments. In the 1710s and ’20s Charles Bridgeman (garden designer) and John Vanburgh (architect) designed Stowe as an English Baroque park. Everywhere we looked there was a view of a temple, a bridge or monument, all reflected in one of the many lakes.
Capability Brown was employed as Head Gardener at Stowe from 1741 and it was he who gradually swept away the Garden’s formality and created landscapes which were visited by tourists in the 18th Century just as they are today. Stowe is said to be the first English garden for which a guide book was produced.
I can’t attach sound to this post, but as you view the lakes, imagine the sound of the moorhens, the ducks and the geese all adding to the ambience of this lovely tranquil garden. Not to mention the birds in the trees as we went through the woodland walks.
The garden began to evolve into a series of natural pictures, to be appreciated from gently walking around the grounds, frequently looking back at where you have just walked from. Once spectacular view was the Corinthian Arch, which stands at the foot of the mile and a half long Buckingham Drive, flanked by the two Buckingham Lodges. I am afraid the photo is a bit dark, but the reflection of the clouds in the water just was too good to miss out of this post.
Below is the Temple of Worthies, built as a shrine to great Britons famous for their ideas and those famous for their actions. They include Shakespeare, Milton, Queen Elizabeth I, Alexander Pope and John Hampden.
Stowe House has been a school since 1923 and the gardens have been looked after by the National Trust since 1989. There is still a major programme of restoration and re-construction and you can see new saplings in most places. The bridge below one of the newest additions and replaces a long-gone wooden bridge, that was found in a painting of the grounds.
We must have walked for a good two hours and could have walked more, had it not been the need for a coffee and a sit down, not to mention the loo. The woodland and the lakeside walks are well signed posted, the paths rise and fall and none are so steep as to be exhausting. The vistas and reflections in the lakes are a joy to behold, a camera really is a must.
- The National Trust’s top six tree avenues (telegraph.co.uk)