I’m a bit late posting this, but our New Year got off to a lovely start when we visited my parents down in Wiltshire. One of the things we did was go to Stourhead, a beautiful National Trust house near the town of Mere. I’ve been going there pretty much my whole life, but it had been a while since I’d had a chance to enjoy its incredibly picturesque gardens. It was a cold winter’s day, but this didn’t take anything away from the beauty of the grounds.
The house was closed by the time we arrived, so we didn’t get to go in. It looked beautiful from the outside though!
The walled gardens weren’t looking their best in the winter, but this little rose-covered building still looked attractive even with relatively bare branches.
I loved this scene with the smoke coming from the chimney of the little gatehouse. It looks so cosy!
The Christmas decorations were still up, looking lovely and twinkly in the Spread Eagle courtyard.
This is the classic Stourhead scene, looking across the bridge over the lake. You can see a Neoclassical temple in the distance, which is modelled on the Pantheon in Rome – more on that later.
The lake has three of these Neoclassical temples dotted around it, and each offers a different perspective over the lake. Here’s the view from one of them, again looking towards the one inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
Here you can see yet another temple, as well as mossy steps leading down to the lake, from which one imagines the owners of the house might once have launched their rowing boats.
As well as being full of interesting temples, Stourhead gardens are also full of interesting trees. Though stark in winter, the lack of leaves reveals the fascinating, twisted shapes of these trunks.
Adding even more interest to a lakeside walk is a little grotto, which is rather reminiscent of Tiberius’s villa on the Isle of Capri. The rocky opening frames another view across the lake.
I’m not sure what this little cottage was originally used for, but I love it – especially the stone seating around the front window. I think it perhaps sells ice creams and such on sunny days now.
The most impressive of the three temples is this one, based on the Pantheon in Rome (though it only has one set of columns on the front, whereas the Pantheon has three).
This is the setting for a romantic scene between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy in the more recent remake of Pride and Prejudice (which, though it was never going to be as good as the 1995 BBC series, did at least have some good scenery).
This is the view from between its columns.
We spotted several species of water fowl on our walk round the lake, including goldeneye (a kind of duck). Many of the ducks were putting their heads below the surface to find food.
This is the Temple of Apollo, which occupies a commanding position on a hill overlooking the lake.
There’s a row of cosy cottages opposite the church and the Spread Eagle pub, at least some of which can be rented as holiday homes. I loved this one, with its lovely Christmas decorations still up.
A final shot of the courtyard, looking even more twinkly as the sun started to go down.
Find out more about visiting Stourhead here.