Location: Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, Europe
Theme: Regions & Landscapes
Set among breathtakingly beautiful landscaped gardens, Stowe House is one of the most majestic stately homes of 18th century England.
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Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, England, was originally the country seat of the Temple-Grenville family. The first house on its footprint was built between 1677 and 1683 for the third baronet, Sir Richard Temple. Over the next century, the family significantly altered and enlarged both the house and its elaborately designed gardens. Stowe was shaped by a parade of famed British architects including John Vanbrugh, James Gibbs, Robert Adam, and John Soane. Meanwhile, well-known landscape designers William Kent and later Capability Brown transformed the grounds into Britain’s finest Arcadian garden with around 50 buildings, an ensemble admired and imitated by many. The family built a magnificent art collection, and displayed it in continually updated and improved interiors, remodeled by European designers such as Giovanni Battista Borra, Georges-François Blondel, and Vincenzo Valdre.
A combination of increasing expenditure and decreasing responsibility eventually bankrupted the family, and in 1827 the first Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, great-great-grandson of Sir Richard Temple, closed Stowe House and took to a yacht on the Mediterranean, over a million pounds in debt.
The family tried to stay afloat by selling off much of their art through a major auction in 1848, but to little avail. The last time Stowe came to the auction block was in 1922, when it was saved from almost certain demolition and was transformed into Stowe School, which opened in May 1923.
Stowe’s impressive grandeur and beauty are complemented by a longer history. In the midst of this exemplary example of Arcadian gardens whose influence was felt across Europe, Stowe House is a Georgian ducal nearly 305 meters (1,000 feet) wide. Built over a century between 1680 and 1780, it represents an immense resource of craftsmanship, a former hotbed of 18th century politics, and a story of rags-to-riches-back-to-rags family history. It twice evaded demolition, in 1848 and in 1922, when it was purchased to become Stowe School. Stowe School has been the Stowe House custodian through an age renowned for the wrecking of Britain’s country houses. Today, three of six phases of restoration have been completed including the North Front and Colonnades; the south front of the Central Pavilion and Marble Saloon; and the State Library.
Stowe Rise Buckingham, MK18 5EH
Tel: 0044 (0)1280 818 166