The countryside around Stourhead

King Alfred's Tower surrounded by orchids

There are lots of fascinating places to explore in the grounds at Stourhead and surrounding countryside.

King Alfred's Tower

This triangular tower, two miles north-west of the garden, was designed by Henry Filtcroft for Stourhead's second owner, Sir Henry Hoare II. The tower is named after King Alfred who raised his standard here in 879. The tower commemorates the accession of George III in 1760 and the end of the Seven Years War.

Six Wells Bottom

The streams which feed the garden start here. From the dam, you can look east into this open valley which once formed part of an enclosed, medieval deer park. St Peter's Pump was erected in the valley in 1768 over the first springs of the Stour. The pump formerly stood near St Peter's Church in Bristol.

The Parkland

The parkland spans three sides of the Palladian villa. The area behind the house is called Great Oar Meadow. This unimproved hay meadow has had no fertilisers added for 14 years and is now a habitat for rare native orchids and other flora. Within the meadow you can also see the Obelisk, first built in 1746.

The tenant farms

There are four working tenant farms on the estate. Each of our long term tenant farmers manages approximately 500 acres using a mix of arable and livestock grazing. Three of the four farms operate within the government’s stewardship (HLS) scheme which promotes conservation in farmland.

Our hazel dormouse project

Our dormouse project has been running since 2008. Hazel dormice are endangered and due to their elusive lifestyle, are rarely seen. The project monitors and protects our resident dormice and their habitat.

Park Hill Camp - a history mystery

Park Hill is an interesting, ancient site within the estate. The archaeological remains here suggest some form of Iron Age settlement. Today the camp is managed as an important habitat for wildlife.

Whitesheet Hill - why is it so special?

The chalk grassland of Whitesheet Hill is one of the country’s best examples of unimproved pasture. For centuries this land has been undisturbed by ploughing and has remained free from chemical fertilisers and pesticides. 
Today we continue to look after this designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. The area is rich in pre-history, with 11 scheduled ancient monuments.

The archaeological wonders of Whitesheet

Whitesheet Hill is archaeologically diverse, with a Neolithic enclosure dating from approximately 3,000 BC, an Iron Age hillfort and Bronze Age barrows covering the graves of wealthy people from 3,200-4,200 years ago.
Evidence suggests that pre-historic farmers met at the causewayed enclosure for markets, fairs or religious ceremonies. The hillfort is believed to have been a defensive structure.

Our management of Whitesheet Hill today

Working closely with local farmers, we have developed a flexible grazing regime to help maintain this valuable chalk grassland. We monitor the plant and animal species to ensure that diversity of wildlife is protected.

Stourhead's wildlife

Stourhead is home to a huge variety of interesting birds, plants and animals. Our ranger team have selected their top 10 for you to look out for on the estate.

How you can help us

  • Take care with dogs around grazing livestock
  • Please clear up your dog’s mess on paths or in well trodden areas
  • Please keep to permissive footpaths when crossing working farmland
  • Where safe, avoid walking on well trodden areas
  • Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs
  • Please park in designated areas
Orchids in front of Tower/ King Alfred's Tower on the wider estate is open at weekends/ King Alfred's Tower surrounded by orchids/ Tam Homes