Pause, notice, reflect

Trees reflected in the lake at Stourhead, Wiltshire, in May

Stourhead is proud to celebrate 125 years since the founding of the National Trust and we’re inviting you to take more unhurried moments for yourself to truly notice the world around you and how it makes you feel.

" We all want quiet. We all want beauty... We all need space. Unless we have it, we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently."
- Octavia Hill, Co-founder of the National Trust

The spirit of Stourhead

A few years ago, a community of Stourhead’s visitors, volunteers and staff, wrote a statement describing the spirit of the place. They wrote:

Spending time within this living work of art inspires body, mind and spirit, offers light and shade and leads us on and out along many paths. It is a journey for all that engages the senses, steadies the soul and restores the spirits. It is a place to treasure and share in all moods and in every season.

But what does Stourhead me to you?

Here are a few of the ways that you can pause, notice and reflect during your next visit in 2020.

Follow the oak leaves

Throughout the garden you’ll discover a series of large oak leaves, placed in special locations throughout the garden. The leaves are a gentle invitation to notice the natural environment around you in that moment.

What sounds can you hear? What textures will you notice in the sky or changing upon the lake’s surface? No two visits will be the same.

Spot these installations on your next visit
An installation around the garden encouraging you to pause, notice and reflect
Spot these installations on your next visit

Try a spot of nature gazing

During the summer months, look out for opportunities to lie back and look at the natural world all around you from a totally new perspective. This is your chance to notice the spectacular shapes created by some of Stourhead’s most unusual trees. Meanwhile, on the lawns by the water’s edge, special relaxation boxes invite you to kick back on the grass and watch the clouds drift by.

Spot some feathered friends

Stourhead is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the variety of birds that live here. Pick up our new bird spotting leaflet in Visitor Reception and see how many feather friends you can spot as you walk the garden paths.

Don’t forget, our bird population changes with the seasons as new species arrive from foreign lands with the warmer weather. How many will you spot by the year’s end?

Will you spot a heron on your next visit?
A heron on the lake
Will you spot a heron on your next visit?

Discover ancient authors whose works explore the impact places can have on us

Use our welcome map to follow a trail of totems made of recycled glass and Stourhead oak, each featuring a quote that highlights the impact of places on people.

From the Odyssey to Paradise Lost, our fantastic research volunteers have taken extracts from some of the best-known works that may have been read by Henry ‘the Magnificent’, who was the visionary behind Stourhead’s famous landscape garden. The trail also includes the personal accounts of people who’ve experienced the impact of Stourhead over the last 300 years.

Let your nose lead the way

We’ll have a new sensory trail for you to try each season with suggestions for how you can explore Stourhead with all five senses. What route would you take if your nose led the way? Don’t be put off by the weather forecast. How might the wind and rain add a new dimension to everything you can see and hear around you?

There is something to enjoy come rain or shine
A couple walking in the rain
There is something to enjoy come rain or shine