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Explore the estate at Stourhead

Visitors and their dog walking with far reaching views all around at Whitesheet Hill near Stourhead in Wiltshire
Visitors and their dog walking at Whitesheet Hill near Stourhead in Wiltshire | © National Trust Images/John Miller

The Stourhead estate is home to around 2,500 acres of countryside, with an Iron Age hillfort, the 160ft-high Alfred's Tower, ancient woodland, and a variety of flora and birdlife among the things to look out for.

Alfred's Tower

This triangular tower, located two miles north-west of the garden, was designed in the 18th century by Henry Flitcroft for Stourhead's second owner, Sir Henry Hoare II.

Named after King Alfred, who raised his standard here in 870, the tower commemorates the accession of King George III in 1760 and the end of the Seven Years War three years later.

Look out for the wildflower meadow surrounding the tower. Roe deer can usually be seen in the woods nearby, especially at dusk and dawn.

Find out more about Alfred's Tower and how to get here

Whitesheet Hill at Stourhead on a sunny day, with purple flowers in the foreground
Flowers at White Sheet Hill | © National Trust Images/Tamsin Holmes

White Sheet Hill

A designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), White Sheet Hill offers far-reaching views, with Stourhead House and Alfred’s Tower to the west, and the Blackmore Vale to the south-east. It is archaeologically diverse, with a Neolithic enclosure dating from approximately 3,000BC, an Iron Age hillfort and Bronze Age barrows dating from 3,200–4,200 years ago.

Wildlife at White Sheet Hill

The area is home to diverse wildlife, including rare butterflies. The chalklands are an ideal home for the Adonis blue. The male butterfly is a metallic blue colour, while females are a less vibrant brown.

The marsh fritillary butterfly can also be seen flying across the downland. June is the best time to catch a glimpse of one.

Getting to White Sheet Hill

White Sheet Hill is a 2.5-mile drive from Stourhead. To get there by car, turn right out of the main Stourhead car park and follow the B3092 towards Frome for one mile. Turn right just before the Red Lion pub and follow the road to the car park.

Six Wells Bottom

The streams that feed the lake in Stourhead's garden start at Six Wells Bottom. 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.

Red kites

While visiting Six Wells Bottom, listen out for red kites, a large bird of prey. The species was saved from extinction in the 1980s and 1990s, and can occasionally be seen gliding over the Stourhead estate looking for prey. They have a distinctive forked tail and will often call out during flight.

Turner's Paddock waterwheel

The waterwheel at Turner's Paddock dates back to the 19th century. It provided water to Stourton parish until the 1950s, pumping it up from the lake. A watermill was recorded on the same site in the Domesday Book.

Turner’s Paddock is named after the landscape artist J M W Turner, who painted this spot in 1799.

Roe deer run across a field at Stourhead, with bare winter trees in the background
Roe deer below the beech clump at Stourhead | © National Trust Images/Tamsin Holmes

Stourhead's parkland

The parkland at Stourhead spans three sides of the Palladian villa. The area behind the house is called Great Oar Meadow. This 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, which was built in 1746.

Wildlife in the parkland

Roe deer are often seen in the area, jumping hedges and running across fields. They rest during the main part of the day, but are more active at dawn and dusk.

If you visit during the winter, look out for the golden plover in the parkland. A migratory bird species, it's often found in Britain throughout the colder months. You'll see them in large flocks on Stourhead's open farmland, along with lapwings.

Family exploring the garden at Stourhead, Wiltshire

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