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Stourhead Circular November 2010

This circular walk follows a route around the National Trust's Stourhead Estate. The great gardens of Stourhead were created in the 18th century by Henry Hoare, of the wealthy banking family. The walk takes in a variety of different landscapes.
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Iron Bridge
We approach the lakes and the formal gardens which were designed by Henry Hoare and laid out between 1741 and 1780.
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Stourton
Stourton is part of the Stourhead estate, now in the ownership of the National Trust. There are a number of listed buildings here.
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Stourhead House
The Stourton family, the Barons of Stourton, had lived in the Stourhead estate for 700 years when they sold it to Henry Hoare I, son of wealthy banker Sir Richard Hoare in 1717. The original manor house was demolished and a new house, one of the first of its kind, was designed by Colen Campbell and built by Nathaniel Ireson between 1720 and 1724. Over the next 200 years the Hoare family collected many heirlooms, including a large library and art collection. In 1901 the house was gutted by fire. However, many of the heirlooms were saved, and the house rebuilt in a near identical style. The last Hoare family member to own the property, Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare, gave the Stourhead house and gardens to the National Trust in 1946, one year before his death.
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Six Wells Bottom
Down this valley flow the streams that feed the lake. On either side are wooded slopes known as Sunny and Shady Hangings. Before the garden was constructed, the valley formed part of an enclosed deer-park.
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Alfred's Tower
Alfred's Tower is one of the finest triangular folly towers in the country. It stands 160 feet high, sheer windowless brick and built for the view from the top. Designed in 1765, it was completed in 1772 on the spot where Alfred the Great erected his standard against Danish invaders in AD 870.
Henry Hoare had the idea of the tower in 1762 after reading about Alfred in Voltaire's "Histoire Generale".
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Turner's Paddock
We walk through the woods until reaching a gate which leads into Turner's Paddock. JMW Turner, along with many other painters, visited Stourhead and painted several pictures. There's always been a rumour that Turner painted in this field and subsequently it was always known as Turner's Paddock.
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Stourhead Park
This is an extensive area of open parkland leading to the Lodge, the Obelisk and Six Wells Bottom.
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The Red Lion
Lunch at The Red Lion - a small pub dating from the 14-15th centuries. And with two open fires!
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Stourhead Gardens
In his youth, Henry Hoare II visited Italy. He became fascinated by the remains of classical and Renaissance Rome. Back at Stourhead, Hoare filled his garden with an extraordinary set of buildings and statues to remind him of his travels.