Countryside

King Alfred's Tower

King Alfred’s Tower, Henry the Magnificent’s tribute to King Alfred  © Stourhead/Tamsin Holmes

King Alfred’s Tower, Henry the Magnificent’s tribute to King Alfred

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.

Whitesheet Hill

Enjoy the stunning views both to and from this archaeological site © Stourhead/Tamsin Holmes

Enjoy the stunning views both to and from this archaeological site

Whitesheet Hill is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

It offers some fantastic views, with Stourhead House and King Alfred's Tower to the west, and Blackmore Vale to the south-east.

Whitesheet is also home to diverse wildlife, including orchids and butterflies.

Six Wells Bottom

Six Wells Bottom in the wider estate, Stourhead © David Hansard photography

Six Wells Bottom in the wider estate, Stourhead

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.

Turner's Paddock waterwheel

The waterwheel was restored to its current state in 2010 © Stourhead images

The waterwheel was restored to its current state in 2010

The current waterwheel dates from the 19th century. It provided water to Stourton parish until the 1950s, pumping it up from Turner's Paddock lake.

A watermill was recorded on the same site in the Doomsday book.

Turner's paddock is named after the landscape artist JMW Turner, who painted this spot in 1799.

The Parkland

The view from the drive out over the parkland © Stourhead/Tom Dyke

The view from the drive out over 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

See farmland management in action on a walk around Stourhead’s estate © Stourhead images

See farmland management in action on a walk around Stourhead’s estate

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.

The work of our rangers includes:

  • Water quality testing across the property and estate
  • Liaising with and assisting our tenant farmers
  • Protecting and conserving our archaeology
  • Improving and managing our environmental practices
  • Wildlife protection and encouragement e.g. tree sparrows and dormice
  • Managing the wild deer herd on the estate
  • Leading visitor walks through the estate and countryside
  • Forestry work and tree surveying

Whitesheet Hill - why is it so special?

Enjoy beautiful views across Wiltshire and towards King Alfred's Tower © National Trust

Enjoy beautiful views across Wiltshire and towards King Alfred's Tower

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

The diversity of the land at Whitesheet is clear from the air © Stourhead images

The diversity of the land at Whitesheet is clear from the air

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

Look out for birds, plants and butterflies on your walk to Whitesheet © Stourhead images

Look out for birds, plants and butterflies on your walk to Whitesheet

Whitesheet is a rich habitat for many species of wildlife. However the chalk grassland would quickly revert to coarse grass, scrub and trees if we did not carefully manage the site.

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.

Get your walking boots on

Explore our 2,650 acres of countryside on one of our five estate walks.

Follow the link below and type in 'Stourhead' to discover our fantastic routes through woodland, parkland and farmland.

Volunteer rangers

Volunteers on Whitesheet Hill

We have a fantastic team of volunteer rangers who help manage Stourhead's 2,650 acres of countryside. They have worked on everything from new pathways to wildlife conservation.

Email us about volunteering at Stourhead.

How you can help us

  • Dogs are welcome on the estate but take care 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, to minimise erosion
  • Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs
  • Please park in designated areas, and avoid parking on verges

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.

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