Visit to Stourhead Gardens, Saturday 4th April 2020 POSTPONED

Winter scene across the lake towards the Pantheon

Stourhead Gardens, near Mere, Wiltshire BA12 6QD
A one day visit

The first visit of 2020 for the Kew Guild is to be to the world famous Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire, 25 miles south of Bath and off the A303. This classical gem of a garden is usually visited in the summer and autumn but we will be visiting this amazing garden as it awakens from its winter slumbers. Its magnificent stands of mature trees, its powerful landscape and sumptuous buildings need to be enjoyed before the summer crowds arrive!  I am also advised that the wild Narcissus will be in full bloom!!!

Stourhead was described as ‘a living work of art’ when first opened in the 1740s. Meandering paths offer vistas through trees to classical temples and surprises at every turn.

Narcissus and the Palladian Bridge
Liriodendron tulipifera on island in the lake

Henry ‘the Magnificent’ (Henry Hoare II) was one of a small group of early eighteenth-century ‘gentleman gardeners’ using their acres to create a particularly personal landscape which expressed their hopes and beliefs about the world and their journey through it. His vision was, “recreating a classical landscape, dependant on water”. The centre piece of the garden at Stourhead is the lake, which dictates the path you take and the views you enjoy. The damming of the river and the creation of the lake was an ambitious undertaking which Henry and his architect Henry Flitcroft planned before work began on the garden buildings such as the Temple of Flora, Pantheon and Grotto.

Plans for the day

Arrive at 10.30, meeting in the car park and then entering together we will take coffee in the café, where we will meet our garden guide. The guide will be with us for approx two hours to walk us around the main parts of the garden.

After this tour we will collect back at the National Trust restaurant at lunchtime for a bite to eat.

It is planned that in the afternoon members of the Guild will then have available time “under their own steam” to visit either the house or further explore the gardens with the intention that the visit will come to an end at approximately at 5.00 o’clock (Gardens close at 6.00 o’clock and the House at 4.30)

It is suggested that about 20ish is a good number for this visit as this will allow everyone to hear the guides presentation and keep us in a group, which is never easy.

Some members may wish to stay overnight and I have therefore booked dinner for 7.00pm in the Spread Eagle Inn, which is on the Stourhead site. This establishment has 5 letting bedrooms and the Stourhead Gardens B&B is also within easy walking distance. There are other pubs and hotels within a short driving distance. I found gives the best selection of accommodation in this area when a search is done for Stourhead.

There are a number of other interesting sites within the area to visit on Sunday for those planning on staying overnight.

Stourhead Admission Prices
National Trust members

  • Garden FREE
  • House FREE

Non National Trust members

  • Garden £11.00
  • House  £11.00
  • Garden and House  £17.40 (day ticket)

These costs are based on a minimum party of 15 otherwise its £18.40

Cost of guide is £3.00 per person (everyone) with a minimum payment of £45.00

Dinner in the Spread Eagle Inn

The pub provides a classic British pub menu in the evening with mains examples costing as follows:-

  • Beer-Battered Fish, Smashed Minted Peas, Tartar Sauce, Salad, Chips
  • Chargrilled Burger, Cheese, Pickles, Mayonnaise, Salad, Chips
  • 35+Day Aged Rib Eye Steak, Mushroom, Tomato, Onion Rings, Chips
  • Haddock, Pea & Pancetta Risotto and Crispy Rocket (GF)
  • Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Fennel Carrots, Celeriac Puree, Apple, Pui Lentils (GF)… £15.00
  • Seasonal Vegetable Curry, Rice, Mango Chutney, Poppadum (V) (Ve) (GF)… £11.00

Two courses can easily be achieved at under £25.00 per person.

Coffee and Lunches

Drinks on arrival and lunchtime snacks and meals will be paid for by members of the Guild as they are taken. The menu and costs of these items are at the standard National Trust rate.

What Next?

If you wish to attend this visit to one of Europe’s most magnificent gardens please advise me by email, by Sunday 23rd February at the latest, with your name and the numbers that will be attending with you on this visit and whether you will be joining us for dinner.

This is likely to be a very popular visit and we are advised that a total number of approximately 20 guests is ideal, so please get your applications in early to guarantee a place. We will be accepting applications on a “first come, first served” basis.

Once I have a more fixed idea of numbers, I can then finalise the arrangements, provide joining instructions and take payment. No money is required at the present time.

In the meantime, if you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kindest regards,
Alan Stuttard
Tel 01886 853465

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