Stourhead house: the Hoare family home

The house at Stourhead is open daily from from 11am - 3pm. Visits are limited and entry to the house is not guaranteed on the day you visit. Please join the queue at the front door of the house anytime from 11am on the day of your visit to gain admission.

On a plateau of high ground Stourhead house was built and became home to generations of the Hoare family. Their house in the country was seen as an escape from London and truly became their family home. 

Visiting the house at Stourhead

The house at Stourhead is open daily from 11am - 3pm, with last entry at 3pm. 

We continue to manage the number of visitors in the house at any one time to prevent over-crowding, and as a result are not able to guarantee admission for all visitors to Stourhead. To enjoy a visit to the house please join the queue at the front door anytime between 11am and 3pm, where a member of the team will welcome you.

To keep you safe hand sanitising gel will be made available on entry and exit.

To prevent over-crowding some items have been temporarily taken off display and the South Apartments remain closed.

Face coverings are recommended in crowded areas but not compulsory.

Accessibility

Our stair climber will be available for wheelchair users/less mobile visitors, with a covid-safe plan in place. We ask that visitors email Stourhead@nationaltrust.org.uk or phone 01747 841152 ahead of their visit in order to use this service. 

The Cabinet Room at Stourhead, Wiltshire

Discover the collection and stories of Stourhead

Explore Stourhead's collection of over 8000 objects online and discover the stories of some of the estate's most influential owners...

Take a closer look

Stourhead house thoughout history

The house at Stourhead in Wiltshire

Building and designing the house

The Palladian villa at Stourhead was finished in 1725 and had taken four years to build. The land had previously been owned by the Stourtons, and Henry Hoare I (known as 'Good Henry' due to his charitable works) pulled down the near derelict Stourton Manor to build his fashionable Palladian country house which was, designed by the Scottish architect, Colen Campbell. Stourhead House has changed somewhat over the years, with different members of the family altering the appearance to suit their own tastes and fashions of the time. The additions of the wings and of the portico to the front of the house were made by Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Sir Henry Hugh Hoare during their ownership. Over the years, the shape, size, and functions of the rooms have also changed to best suit the members of the family living there at the time.

Stourhead, Wiltshire was the inspiration for Creighton-Ward Mansion in the Thunderbirds

Palladian style

Stourhead was one of the first grand Palladian-style villas to be built in England and therefore it follows the correct tradition, where the carriage entrance leads to the piano nobile, or main floor, where the principal rooms are arranged. Underneath, in a semi-basement, lie the ‘engine rooms’ of the house – the kitchens, sculleries and storerooms. The house was intended to be the main country home for Henry Hoare I and his family, but unfortunately Henry died the same year that the house was completed.

The Picture Gallery at Stourhead, Wiltshire

Furnishing the house

The great grandson of Henry Hoare I, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, made significant changes to the house, not only by adding the wings, but also by adding to the wonderful collection of objects inside. He had found that the original house was not large enough for his books and paintings, so the wings were built to house this collection and are great examples of his Regency taste. Sir Richard Colt Hoare also employed furniture-maker Thomas Chippendale the Younger to make furniture for the newly built wings.

Books in the Gunby Library

The Heirloom sale

Great estates were hit by hard times during the agricultural depression of the late nineteenth century and Stourhead was no exception. Then owned by Sir Henry Ainslie Hoare, he had to sell some of the treasures bought and commissioned by Henry Hoare II ‘the Magnificent’ and Sir Richard Colt Hoare. These included paintings of Salisbury by JMW Turner, watercolours by Francis Nicholson and Colt Hoare’s unequalled library of topographical books.

Sir Henry and Lady Alda Hoare with their son, Henry on 4th October 1912 at Stourhead, Wiltshire

Restoring Stourhead to its former glory

When the last owners, Sir Henry and Alda, Lady Hoare, inherited Stourhead it had been closed up for a number of years, and when they first moved to Wiltshire they occupied ‘the Cottage’ (now the National Trust Estate Office) while the house was redecorated and put back in order. They also set about renovating the gardens which had also been neglected. In 1902 a fire took hold of the recently restored house, destroying the central section, and the family once again moved back into the Cottage for two years.

Thanks to Henry and Alda, Stourhead once again became a family home, but they were distraught when they lost their only son, Harry, during the First World War. In 1946 Stourhead was given to the National Trust to care for and look after for future generations to enjoy. 

Today the main floor of the house is open for visitors to explore and discover this much-loved family home. 

Visitors enjoying the garden at Stourhead in early summer

75 years of looking after Stourhead

In 2021 we are marking 75 years of looking after Stourhead which was gifted to the National Trust by the Hoare family on 7 March 1946.

Staying safe 

In line with the easing of restrictions, we've reopened many of our houses. Visits are limited and entry to the house is not guaranteed on the day you visit. The safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff remains our top priority. We'll continue to provide hand sanitiser and stick to our high standards of cleanliness, we recommend that face coverings are worn in enclosed and crowded areas.

We look forward to welcoming you back and know that you’ll support us to make this a safe experience for everyone.