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Things to see inside Stourhead House

A view of the Entrance Hall, its walls covered in portraits, at Stourhead, Wiltshire
Entrance Hall at Stourhead | © National Trust Images / Dennis Gilbert

Built and modified by different generations of the Hoare family, Stourhead House is a Palladian-style villa that forms the centrepiece of the garden. Within its walls, there's a significant collection of furniture, designed by Chippendale the Younger, along with paintings collected by Henry Hoare II and Sir Richard Colt Hoare during their Grand Tours around the world. Here are just a few of the things you can expect to see.

Early pioneers and monumental mysteries

Learn about the work of Sir Richard Colt Hoare, William Cunnington and a team of 19th-century excavators that changed archaeology forever, and consider the great medieval mansion that stood before Stourhead House… but left little trace or clues.

Early pioneers and monumental mysteries takes place at Stourhead House daily during opening times until 31 October. The exhibition is free, but normal admission applies.

650th anniversary of the medieval Bristol Cross

Visitors can now discover the intriguing origins of the Bristol Cross, the oldest known structure in the National Trust’s care at Stourhead.

The Pope’s Cabinet

The Pope’s Cabinet was made in Rome in around 1585, probably for the ‘Iron’ Pope, Sixtus V. It's the most significant example of Italian pietre dure cabinet-making in Britain.

Pietre dure, meaning ‘hard rocks’ in Italian, is the technique of inlaying pieces of highly polished coloured stones to create a decorative image. The cabinet at Stourhead is the finest surviving piece of its kind and date.

Inside the library at Stourhead with light streaming through big windows and an arched ceiling
Stourhead Library with its celebrated lunette window | © National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

The Library lunette

The lunette window is a main feature of the Library. The vibrant image was created by painting two panes of very thin crown glass on both sides using glass paint and transparent enamel. The two panes were then held together in the surrounding frame by putty.

The window was created by glass artist Francis Eginton and is signed by him in the lower left pane of the central section: 'Frs. Eginton 1803'.

While in the Library, don’t forget to look out across the lake and landscaped garden. Children will love ascending the steps at the front of the house to take in the elevated views.

The Axminster carpet

The carpet in the Saloon was made by the world-famous Axminster carpet company in the 19th century, and is the oldest original carpet in the house. It was rescued by servants from a fire that destroyed the central part of the house in 1902, and cut to fit the Saloon’s layout – the excess pieces have been found neatly folded underneath. The carpet weighs approximately 300kg.

The return of Penelope and Euriclea

Angelica Kauffman’s fine oil painting, Penelope and Euriclea, has finally returned to Stourhead after 140 years. Thanks to the generous support of a National Trust fund (set up by the late Simon Sainsbury) and a member of the Hoare family, the conservation charity was able to place a winning bid for the painting at auction. It is on view in the Picture Gallery from Monday 2nd October - Sunday 5th November.  The picture will then feature in a wider exploration of Kauffman’s work in 2024.

Conservator April Johnson looks over at the fine oil painting 'Penelope and Euriclea' by Angelica Kauffman displayed inside the picture gallery, Stourhead, Wiltshire
Conservator surveying 'Penelope and Euriclea' by Angelica Kauffman, Stourhead, Wiltshire | © National Trust/Petra Mirosevic-Sorgo
Family exploring the garden at Stourhead, Wiltshire

Discover more at Stourhead

Find out when Stourhead is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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