The Sir Richard Colt Hoare story
Richard Colt Hoare’s story is one of happiness, loss, escape, exploration and, ultimately, his development of Stourhead - establishing the place we see today. The rooms in the house walk us through the life of one of the most influential owners, revealing how he overcame grief to create a 'living work of art'.
Sir Richard Colt Hoare was respectful of family history, moving much of the family portrait collection here. Despite many changes, Colt remained true to his grandfather, Henry Hoare II's, vision for the garden, as a picturesque landscape evoking classical Italy.
Library ante room
This room reflects a house in mourning. Colt’s wife, Hester, died in childbirth in 1785 - just two years after their marriage. This was followed by his grandfather's death. Colt was so distraught that he travelled to the continent for six years to escape his grief.
On returning to England, Colt built the library pavilion for his
collection of books, diaries and folios. It was completed in 1792 and is a record of his discoveries, making references to the classical and renaissance world he encountered in Italy.
Colt enjoyed the contemporary culture and ancient heritage of Italy. His diaries reveal a keen interest in food, opera, theatre and socialising. As an Italian opera plays through the room today, you can imagine Colt entertaining guests and discussing his travels.
Little dining room
Unlike his grandfather, Colt was a patron of the arts - supporting contemporary artists in Britain. He filled this room and others with furniture made by Thomas Chippendale the Younger.
This was a room for entertaining guests and is filled with a variety of Chippendale styles. Today, a drugget allows you to walk right into the room and float above the original 1830s Axminster carpet, for a true feel of the space.
In Colt's time, this was home to classical and contemporary landscape paintings. Colt also combined old and new in his development of the garden. He kept many of the broad-leafed trees planted by his grandfather, but added new species such as tulip trees and rhododendrons.
This was Colt’s bedroom and today it explores the relationship between Colt and the son he left behind when he escaped bereavement on a grand tour of Europe, which lasted six years. Original letters detail how strained their relationship became.
Colt remodelled this room in 1802, paying homage to his influential grandfather. Centre stage, Colt placed the jewel in the crown of Henry Hoare II’s collection - the Pope's Cabinet. This captures Colt’s close, albeit testing, relationship with his grandfather.
Colt added this pavilion in the 1790s to house the best of his and his grandfather's paintings. It reflects the many Italian influences in his life. You can walk in his footsteps as you enjoy paintings by Cardi, Dughet, Maratta, Poussin and more.
As you can see, Sir Richard had a great impact on the house and its collection. Why not discover more and take a tour of the house yourself.