The Old Dairy Bookshop at Stowe

When you visit the second-hand bookshop at Stowe, every penny you spend helps us care for National Trust special places. We're open daily 10am-5pm.

A new chapter

Our Georgian coaching inn welcomes visitors all year long. The bookshop was established in 2015 in our Hayloft, and started a new chapter in the Old Dairy in 2019 which now bustles with book lovers.

Where will I find the bookshop?

To discover the Old Dairy Bookshop, head into the historic Parlour Rooms on the right-hand side of the New Inn when you first arrive and walk into the courtyard.

Explore the bookshop from the New Inn courtyard
A paved historic courtyard with an open door
Explore the bookshop from the New Inn courtyard

Step through the door

When you visit you can browse through a treasure trove of second-hand books. We have a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction books. In particular we specialise in gardening, history, travel and art. There is also a large children's section so you'll find something for all ages. We also have a selection of vintage books.

You'll often find a friendly volunteer in our bookshop who may be able to help you find that special book. We welcome cash and card payments, and if you would like us to look after your new purchases while you head off around the garden, we can mind your books for you! If the bookshop is unattended, please leave cash in the honesty box or head to the main Shop to pay by card.

We also welcome book donations from the public, if you have a small quantity of books, just a couple of bags, then please do pop in when we are open. For larger donations, please call our office on 01280 817156 to book in the delivery first, it really helps us to plan ahead.

Your purchases and donations of books help keep places like Stowe special, thank you.

Find a wide selection of gardening, wildlife, walking and children's books in The Old Dairy Bookshop at Stowe.
Young boy reading a bird book
Find a wide selection of gardening, wildlife, walking and children's books in The Old Dairy Bookshop at Stowe.

Literary connections

The mysteries of Stowe continue throughout the literary world. The gardens influence has rubbed off on many authors and inspiration can be found in many books. A book with possibly the strongest connection to Stowe is the sequel to Gulliver's Travel's called Mistress Masham's Repose written in 1946 by T.H White. As a former teacher at Stowe, White took strong inspiration from the gardens when creating the setting of the story. A map printed at the back of the book also shows clear comparisons featuring lakes and islands, woodland and temples just like Stowe.

The gardeners also took inspiration from books when creating the gardens. The design of the Sleeping Wood, located next to the Octagon lake, was inspired by Charles Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty. The Sleeping Parlour once sat within a mazy wood, with paths winding through the shrubberies and leading to the centre revealing a secret clearing. This represents the castle becoming hidden in the thorns, the winding paths are your 100 years journey to get through to the clearing and break the spell.

Top reading spot

We've chosen Grenville's Column as the best spot to take a seat on the grass for a moment to read surrounding yourself with scenic views. The muse of Heroic Poetry stands on top representing one of the four types of poetry - Heroic, Pastoral, Satyric and Lyric. Tucked away in the Elysian Fields, she faces across the River Styx towards the Temple of British Worthies reading from a scroll which reads 'Non nisi grandia canto' meaning 'Of none but heroic deeds I sing'.