Conserving Stourhead’s oldest carpet

Rolling the 9m by 9m carpet (C) National TrustThe oldest, largest and most important carpet in Stourhead has been sent for conservation work – after a complex operation to survey and remove it safely from the house.
The National Trust Stourhead’s garden volunteers were asked to turn their green fingers to a very different task to help with the move of the 40-60 stone Axminster carpet from the house for a nine-month-long conservation project. Continue reading…

Work starts to save Stourhead’s Pantheon

Stourhead Pantheon (c) National Trust / Allan King

Stourhead Pantheon (c) National Trust / Allan King

Work has started to restore the Pantheon, perhaps the most important feature in the world-famous landscape gardens at the National Trust’s Stourhead in Wiltshire

Scaffolding now clads the building and the restoration team are making a start to repair the building’s roof – putting right damage caused by water leaks – and to restore some of the stonework. Continue reading…

Stourhead celebrates Autumn

A wet September could hold the secret to spectacular autumn colours at Stourhead in Wiltshire.

After a dry summer, National Trust gardeners reported that dry trees were more likely to shed their leaves quickly, before the colours fully developed. However, following the wet spell in September, hopes are higher that the full spectacle of autumn colours will be seen at their best this year. Continue reading…

Grant helps save Stourhead’s Pantheon

A grant of over £260,000 has ensured the Pantheon, one of the most important features in the world-famous landscape gardens at Stourhead in Wiltshire, can be saved.

(c) National Trust

The Pantheon at Stourhead

The building is in urgent need of repairs and now thanks to the grant of £260,200 from the SITA Trust, work is able to start on essential repairs to the Pantheon and other buildings in the garden.

The money will also pay for work on the lower pump house which is currently inaccessible because the area around it is unsafe.

The SITA Trust supports community and environmental improvement projects through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Marek Gordon, Chair of SITA Trust, said ‘The Landfill Communities Fund gives us a chance to safeguard some of the country’s most precious heritage. Our Board were keen to support a project where funding will allow the National Trust to conserve Stourhead which is such an iconic place enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people each year.”

Most of the buildings in the garden need some maintenance work with several in need of extensive repairs. Probably one of the most photographed National Trust gardens in the country, the buildings carefully placed through the landscape when the gardens were designed, are an important part of its appeal.

Thanks to the grant from SITA Trust, the National Trust is now planning an appeal to raise another £240,000 to complete the project.

The first stage will be repairs to the Pantheon, which is in need of some urgent repairs. Built in 1754, it is the largest and most prominent of the temples around the lake at Stourhead – and one of the first buildings that visitors see when looking across the lake.

A number of the steps into the building are cracked and a leaking roof is causing other damage inside. It is considered to be in the most urgent need of repair.

The lower pump house and waterwheel is now quite dilapidated but was part of the water system on the estate, pumping water to a reservoir a mile away.

The area around the buildings is unsafe but repairs to steps and a wooden bridge would allow visitors to once more have access to the pump house and waterwheel and see some of the engineering which went into maintaining the landscape gardens.

There are a total of 22 buildings and structures around Stourhead, including King Alfred’s Tower, the Temple of Apollo  and the Grotto – many of which need repair.

“Mike MacCormack, General Manager at Stourhead said the buildings were an important part of the Grade 1 listed landscape and many were also listed themselves.

“The Stourhead landscape was designed over 40 years in the mid 18th Century by Henry Hoare II, with this wonderful array of buildings and features as an integral part of that design. The buildings are often the focal point for the views across the lake and the iconic views of Stourhead which is recognised and loved by so many would not be the same if the Pantheon, the bridge or the grotto wasn’t there.

“We are so fortunate that Stourhead has survived for 250 years, but time has taken its toll and, if we are to ensure it survival for future generations, we need to carry out some major repairs to many of the buildings – and essential maintenance to others.

“Thanks to the support of SITA Trust, we know we can do some of the most urgent work to the Pantheon and the lower pump house. Their support is a tremendous kick start to our plans to save the entire collection of buildings which make the garden so important and well loved.

More information on Stourhead is available on

Volunteer recruitment weekend at Stourhead

Volunteer recruitment open days are taking place at Stourhead House this weekend.

The main volunteering opportunities this year will be as room guides for Stourhead’s Palladian mansion house, since it is opening its doors to visitors more often this year.

“Anybody with a little spare time is very welcome to drop into Stourhead on 2 or 3 February and discover more about the volunteering opportunities we have on offer this year,” said Jean Nimmo, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Stourhead.

She added “A volunteer with the National Trust will not only be part of an enthusiastic, friendly team but will get the chance to work alongside some real experts and pick up all sorts of knowledge from them. Many find that the practical skills learnt are of use in future careers.”

The recruitment weekend is on Saturday 2 February and Sunday 3 February from 11am to 2.30 pm at Stourhead House, Stourton, Wiltshire. Anybody interested is welcome to drop in, meet some of the staff and volunteers who work at Stourhead and find out more about what they can get involved in.

Other volunteering roles include garden guides, fundraising and restaurant assistants.

For further information on this volunteer recruitment weekend or volunteering generally at Stourhead please contact Jean Nimmo, Volunteer Co-ordinator at the Stourhead estate office on 01747 841152

Autumn colours set to be “one of the best” at Stourhead

Autumn colours have just started to wash through the trees at Stourhead’s landscape gardens as the team at the National Trust property predicted potentially one of their best years for Autumn colours.

 Thanks to the huge number of tree types at Stourhead, the fiery colours of Autumn start early and have a long season, being expected to develop over the next six to eight weeks.

 The wet weather in the summer, while a problem for many orchards, has caused the trees to produce large numbers of leaves which are now showing Autumn colour as the weather turns colder.

 Alan Power, the head gardener at Stourhead said they have over 600 species of tree and shrub in the landscape gardens, planted 250 years ago to create a changing view as the seasons progress.

 “We did have a burst of warm weather late in the year which allowed the trees to increase their sugar levels. Combined with the wet weather which has allowed the tree to hold more of their leaves than in a long hot summer, it should allow richer and warmer Autumn colours to develop and a real spectacle of warm colours washing through the woodland from now right through to early November.

 “If the weather is kind – and we don’t have storms in the next few weeks – there is the potential for one of the best and longest Autumn seasons we have seen at Stourhead.”

 To guide visitors wanting to know how the autumn colours are developing the Stourhead Leaf Line has been set up for the latest updates.

 The special Autumn leaf line – 01747 841152 – will have regular recorded updates from Stourhead head gardener Alan Power. The recorded update is accessed by dialling the number and selecting option 6.

 ‘We had a few early hints of autumn, and the Maples, both the Norway and Japanese Maples, are always the first to turn with the rest of the garden is coming along a nice steady pace,’ said Alan.

 ‘We are fortunate to have a garden with such variety which means that Autumn is never a single day event here – there is no best time to visit – it is a six to eight week period when people love to come again and again and watch the changes as the colours wash across the different trees in the garden.

 Every autumn at Stourhead is different as the trees respond to weather throughout the summer and subsequently during September. Depending on the amount of moisture in the ground and the stresses the trees have suffered from weather over the summer months, autumn can start very suddenly or can develop gently across the gardens.

 Alan added: “Autumn is perhaps my favourite season in the gardens at Stourhead. The plant collection itself is worth coming to see but added to it the architectural features within the landscape, the way the trees reflect in the lake on the calm days – especially when the tulip trees on the islands turn yellow – makes it a very special time of year.”

 The vision of the garden was laid down in the 18th century by Henry Hoare II who placed Stourhead at the forefront of the 18th-century English landscape movement. Inspired by the views ofItaly captured by artists in paint, he decided to create a landscape garden at Stourhead that would bring art to life.

 His work was carried on by his grandson Richard Colt Hoare who added to the garden and developed the current paths also adding many of the broadleaved trees, especially beech, acers, chestnuts, planes and the tulip trees.

 For more information on events at Stourhead visit the website

At 40.4 metres – Stourhead oak tree is the tallest in the UK

Stourhead Oak with David Alderman (Tree Register) and Emily Utgren (Stourhead gardener)

Stourhead Oak with David Alderman (Tree Register) and Emily Utgren (Stourhead gardener)

 The tallest oak tree in the country has been found in the grounds of the National Trust Stourhead estate in Wiltshire – at 40.4 metres (132.5 feet) it is officially the tallest English Oak in the UK. Continue reading…