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Things to see in the garden at Stourhead

A flowering rhododendron with the Pantheon overlooking the lake in the background at Stourhead, Wiltshire
Rhododendrons and the Pantheon at Stourhead | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

There's so much to see in Stourhead's garden, with spectacular landscapes and architectural treasures galore. Whether you want to take a stroll or lay out a blanket and soak up the sights, sounds and smells of this world-renowned estate, you're sure to have a memorable visit.

Walks around the garden

The Bristol Cross

The Bristol Cross is the oldest known structure in the National Trust’s care at Stourhead.

It stands at the entrance to the garden, one of Stourhead’s most recognisable views, but it began life in the centre of the medieval city of Bristol.

Lakeside treats

One of the main focal points of Stourhead's garden is its lake. Take the path alongside it to enjoy magnificent vistas, the atmospheric Grotto and Gothic Cottage, plus a wide range of plants and trees.

Views from the house

Those looking for a slightly longer walk can take the route that meanders up past Stourhead House. You'll be met with incredible views across the landscape towards temples and beautiful reflections in the lake.

These views change with the seasons, meaning no two visits are ever the same and there are always new wonders to be discovered.

Pelargoniums in the Walled Garden

Sir Richard Colt Hoare had a great interest in pelargoniums, a long flowering plant with evergreen scented leaves, he owned over 600 varieties. Many of these he'd cultivated himself using cuttings and other propagation techniques. His pelargonium house has been revived in the Lower Walled Garden. More than 100 types of pelargoniums are still grown there today.

The view across the lake towards the bridge from the Grotto at Stourhead, Wiltshire
View from the Grotto at Stourhead | © National Trust Images / Hugh Mothersole

Architectural features

The garden was developed in the early 18th century when classical inspiration was all the rage. As such, there are many architectural creations to look out for while exploring the grounds. Here are some of the highlights:

The Grotto

Grottos were popular in Italian Renaissance gardens as places to escape from the summer heat. Stourhead's Grotto is a circular, domed chamber that was built to resemble a cave.

The Pantheon

Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, this structure is the largest garden building at Stourhead. Pantheon means 'temple sacred to all the gods'. This is a good spot to stop a while and enjoy the vista across the lake.

The Temple of Apollo

This circular temple was built in honour of Apollo, the sun god. Nestled on a hilltop, it offers clear views over the lake and is a popular venue for civil ceremonies.

View over the lake Stourhead  on a sunny day with some trees in the foreground
The garden at Stourhead | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The Temple of Flora

Dedicated to the Roman goddess of flowers and spring, the Temple of Flora was the first garden building to be added at Stourhead. Over the doorway, the Latin inscription reads: ‘Keep away, anyone profane, keep away,’ requesting everyone to enter in the right spirit.

The Palladian Bridge

Although ornamental, Stourhead's Palladian Bridge was intended to look practical. Designed to create the illusion that a river flows through the village and under the bridge, it’s a great spot to take family photographs as a memory of your visit.

Family exploring the garden at Stourhead, Wiltshire

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