Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Living Work of Art

A walk in the landscape, not just any old landscape. 
Over 250 years ago, this one had the accolade of being described as a living work of art.
These trunks all belong to one tree - a Western Red Cedar, it is one of the tallest of its kind at 40.8m (134ft).
Welcome to Stourhead, the acclaimed landscape created in the 1740s by 'Henry the Magnificent' which changed the way gardens were designed forever.
Henry Hoare dominated the Hoare family through his wealth and personal charisma; for 60 years he was a partner in the C. Hoare & Co. Bank. The bank is the oldest privately owned banking house in the country, founded by Sir Richard Hoare, in 1672. It still remains family-owned and is currently managed by the 11th generation of Sir Richard Hoare's direct descendants. Famous early customers were Catherine of Braganza - wife of Charles II, Samuel Pepys, John Dryden (poet) Sir Godfrey Kneller (painter) and Richard Beau Nash.
The lake taken from within one of the Grottoes.
The lake is central to the design at Stourhead, the lake's edges being adorned with classical temples, enchanting grottoes and rare exotic trees.
Across the lake to the Palladio Bridge and St. Peter's church.
Gothic Thatched Cottage
cosy inside
Memory branches for visitors to record their impressions
Originally called the Temple of Hercules this building featured a statue of that ancient hero who was associated with gardens in Roman times. By the mid 1760s, Henry Hoare had bought and installed six more statues to flank Hercules, and it became known as The Pantheon.

55 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, These have got to be the most magnificent pictures yet, and the best I have seen of Stourhead. (The Treasure Hunt blog has featured this estate before, including its beautiful library.) The trees in the first few pictures quite gave me a sense of vertigo, even if they are not quite California redwoods. The multi-view of the cedar tree truly has a surreal sense of age and weirdness, perfect for this time of year!
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - you have a good eye for remembering what you have seen. The library is as you say, absolutely beautiful - I will show it at some time in the future.
      The trees were magnificent, layer upon layer of them, from the bottom of the valley to the top, and they seemed to reach up forever.
      The red cedar had made so many new trunks that it did seem surreal. The darkness within the centre, lit up by the filtered sunlight was captivating and also sculptural.

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  2. I remained speechless! Your photos are great (as always of course).
     These people created a great environment! I would like to walk along the paths of the forest beneath the tall trees!
    I would not come home after such a walk!
    Thank you for this beauty !
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - it was like walking in a magic wonderland, and we returned home uplifted by it all.

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  3. SO much BEAUTY! Your photos are amazing and the landscapes beyond words. Thank you for sharing such wonders.

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    1. Dear Karen - I am so pleased that you enjoyed this stunning landscape. Man can leave beauty behind him, if he treats the land with care and respect.

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  4. Fancy being known as Henry the Magnificent such a marvellous title, I could live with that!
    A delightful post Rosemary, full of flavours of Autumn. Although I haven't visited Stourhead this time of year looks like a great time to visit to admire the changing colours....and look do I see miniature peoples within your photos, be off with them:)

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    1. Oh dear!!! I knew that one person would spot my miniatures, and I guessed it would be you. Try as I might with a few leaves here and a few branches there not all of them could be deleted entirely. As you say - be off with them.
      However, glad that you enjoyed seeing Stourhead, a nice little jaunt for you to make sometime. It does look glorious in the snow, spring and summer too.

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  5. Hello Rosemary

    A spectacular post and the weather when you visited looks perfect. Your photos are breathtaking and I am scrolling backwards and forwards. Stourhead has a long history.
    I would love to move into the Gothic Cottage with my french easel and paint for a few motnhs. Then I would have decide what season so I think I shall make it in the spring time!

    Thanks for a memorable visit

    Helen xx

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    1. Dear Helen - our visit was yesterday - a perfectly still, calm, sunny day.
      The cottage needs a resident hermit - why not a beautiful artist?
      The landscape is magical in all seasons, but the autumn colours are especially good this year. We have no fruit on the trees but the leaves are making up for it.
      Glad you enjoyed the photos and thank you.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,
    I have never been to Stourhead but having seen your photographs I think we will need to visit when we are over for the summer - alas that is nearly a whole year away!
    I agree with Paul. I like the accolade 'the Magnificent' and I think that Kirk the Magnificent has a certain ring to it.
    Your photographs are lovely. You have a good eye for it. The red of that maple is breathtaking, wouldn't you agree?
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - there are lots of other interesting places you can visit nearby to make a trip worthwhile - Longleat House, Bath, and the wonderful gardens of Iford Manor which belonged to Harold Peto the renown garden designer.
      I am pleased you mentioned the red maple it was the most amazing red - could be called 'Maple the Magnificent'!!!

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  7. Stunningly beautiful Rosemary,
    Your photos of Stourhead and its history,
    I have never seen anything as beautiful.
    Henry certainly knew what he wanted
    A sight for sore eyes..
    thank you for the tour.
    val

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    1. Thank you Val - so pleased that you found it beautiful. We were fortunate, I took the photos yesterday, and it was perfect weather. The air was still, the sun shone and the sky was blue

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  8. Such beauty! Those colours surrounding the lake, Hercules and the Pantheon...
    And such a sweet way to keep people's impressions of the place!
    Thank you dear Rosemary : )

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    1. Dear Demie - I thought that the memory twigs were a nice way of conveying people's impressions too, it looked very attractive in the corner of the cottage.
      The colours around the lake were unbelievably stunning. No fruit on our trees this year, but wonderful colour in the leaves - very uplifting.

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  9. This is so beautiful!!!! Thank you for sharing this beauty here with all of us again Rosemary.
    Also thank you for the recipe in your previous post. I happen to have all the ingredients needed in the house, so I will be making it one of these days. I'll let you know how it goes. It certainly looks delicious and what can be better than a delicious, healthy soup on these dreary oktober days.
    Bye,
    have a lovely week,
    Marian

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    1. Hope you enjoy the recipe Marian - if you like it with some spice you can add some chilli paste or flakes.
      We seem to have been fortunate this October and have been blessed with sunshine. I took these photos yesterday, and today is bright and sunny too. It will help carry us through the darker days which will be descending soon.

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  10. Terrfic colours and scenery! Your photos capture the beauty perfectly. Well done.

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    1. Thank you Marie - I always appreciate your very kind comments as you are such a talented photographer compared with me. I just mess around with my little point and shoot and hope for the best.

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  11. Hello Rosemary! You know, I had written and posted a long comment and... it just disappeared when I tried to post it!

    I was commenting on how beautiful the pictures are. The 8th one, in particular, with the tree branch making an arch in the foreground and, in the background, a pink bush reflected on the surface of the water. One would expect to see little pixies and magic dust to suddenly appear! It's magic!Sugar plum fairies, where are you hiding?

    Shakespeare said,talking about the theatre, that it was and indeed still is: "A mirror up to Nature" meaning that art is inspired by nature. Nature is the MASTER and it can't really be a "Living work of art" Nature is life, which inspires, provokes, generates art. I agree with old Wills!

    La Marchesa Luisa Casati, in the 20s used to describe herself as a "Living work of art" Was she really? Rich and powerful, she could allow herself to live an extravagant life style, that was all!

    Going back to your post. It shows England at its best: nowhere else you would get so much green, so much beauty... so much sky! Thank you for a wonderful sequence of truly moving and romantic pictures: a feast of wonderful colours, shapes and shades of green, yellow, red, pink and blue.

    FANTASTIC STUFF, ROSEMARY!

    Happy evening! I can't wait to sit down with a glass of wine and watch Downton Abbey! "FREE BATES!"

    CIAO!

    ANNA
    xx

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    1. Dear Anna - so sorry your comment disappeared, that is a shame because I know that you are so thoughtful in the amount of time you spend sharing comments.
      Thank you for your generous comments regarding the photos. To be honest I was lucky. Yesterday was the perfect day, the sun shinning, calm air, and beautiful sky and a magical landscape to photograph. A few little fairies would have been an added attraction.
      La Marchesa Luisa Casati really was a living work of art, and how wonderful it would have been to win the book Paul was giving away on The Magical Christmas Wreath.
      I am so pleased that you enjoyed the romantic landscape and the wonderful colours, perhaps you may have the opportunity to visit yourself sometime.
      I shall be toasting you tonight at the start of Downton Abbey, and hoping that you are right and that Bates will be free.
      Ciao and thank you so much Anna♥


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  12. Dear Rosemary, I am blown away by your artful photos! They look like paintings! You are an artist! It looks like autumn has arrived in England too and it is showing itself from the most beautiful side! I hope there are many more days like this to come - for you to make photographs - for us to see and admire them! Christa

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    1. Dear Christa - this weekend was heaven sent for taking photographs, and with that landscape I could not really go wrong.
      I am so pleased that you enjoyed them. We returned home totally uplifted by the beautiful weather and the magical colours.

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  13. Hi Rosemary,
    Your photos of Stourhead are incredible we have be thinking of going there all year,and came to the conclusion in August to leave it until the Autumn. Unfortunately we are busy next weekend I'm sure it wouldn't be as magnificent in a few weeks time. Thank you for sharing those beautiful views.
    Sarah x

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    1. Hello Sarah - do try to make it if you can - the trees are so lovely, in particular the red leaves on the maples. Remember Stourhead is open all week, and during the week days it is quieter. If there is a good sunny day, I would urge to try and go.

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  14. You took some extremely good pictures. Love the reflections. An amazing fall article.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Thank you Filip - it was perfect yesterday for taking photos.

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  15. Rosemary,
    You know I am a huge fan of your garden tours and photos. Well this one is breathtaking! I'm gonna say this is my favorite post from Where Five Valleys Meet! (BTW, how did you get the name WFVM?) I had planned a visit to Stourhead but canceled. Seeing your photos, that was obviously foolish! Adding this to my list for next spring.
    Loi

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    1. Dear Loi - that is very generous of you, but I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing Stourhead. We went yesterday and were lucky as it was a still, sunny, beautiful day. It will be just as lovely in the spring when the trees are wearing their new green growth too. It is a special landscape in all seasons, even in the snow with the stark bare outlines of the trees.
      WFVM is where I live. Our home is built on land 750 ft high and completely surrounded by different valleys - as you might guess five in all.

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    2. Sounds very dramatic and beautiful. We went out for a drive in Shenandoah National Park today (75 miles from DC)....beautiful mountains and valleys. But boy was it congested. Guess everyone else had the same idea.

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  16. Hallo Rosemary!I am left speechless by the incredible beauty! What wonderful colors!Its like being in paradise! Your photos are so vivid! Congratulations my friend for these exquisite scenes you shared with us!
    Wish you a lovely week!Dimi..

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    1. Hello Dimi - today I am overwhelmed with my blogging friends very generous comments.
      I was just lucky - yesterday was a perfect day, sunshine, blue skies, wonderful for taking photographs, and I was in a magical landscape.
      I am really pleased that you enjoyed seeing them and thank you very much.

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  17. Rosemary, that is truly art on the grandest of scales and oh, those autumn colours! A really beautiful post to take to bed and dream of.

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    1. Hope your dreams were sweet Perpetua - the colours were stunning. I think that the leaves are making up for the lack of fruit on the trees this year.
      We have had some glorious days here, as I am sure you have too. From blogs I read it is not universal. East of the country rain, along with grey, rainy weather in France, Belgium and Holland.

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  18. Ah, to have such vision (and money) when planning a garden, this is indeed a work of art. The bridge is beautiful from every angle and that one red-leafed tree ( a Japanese Maple?) is such a scene stealer, impossible to miss in every photo :)

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    1. Dear Rosemary - if you have unlimited money it certainly helps.
      The Palladian bridge had a perfect reflection last Saturday which is always useful when photographing.
      The red maple was at the height of its colour, there were actually several of them around the lake, all giving strong red mirror images in the water.

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  19. Dear Rosemary,
    Thank you once again for a spectacular post. You ae such a talented photographer, and have chosen your subjects with great sensitivity--beautiful! I can't wait to visit this living artwork-- perhaps next spring?!
    Warm regards,
    Erika

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    1. Dear Erika - Stourhead is such a magical landscape that in all honesty I could not go wrong. Saturday was a beautiful day, and the mirror reflections in the water were perfect, but thank you.

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  20. Dear Rosemary - I am delighted to know about Henry Hoare and the Pantheon. When I was working at the newspaper, I wanted to use a screen saver that was beautiful and calm. And it was a lovely image of the Pantheon that I chose, a view from the water. You made my day!

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    1. Dear Mark - if Henry had needed a screen saver, he would probably have chosen the same image too. Henry was a great patron of the arts.
      Next time I visit, I will get that view for you.

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  21. I hope someone in the U. K. is looking at this blog and recognizes it for it's quality. These images are stunning.

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    1. Oh dear Olive - you have covered me with embarrassment, but thank you very much for your generous comment.

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  22. I’m stunned and just sigh in admiration and contentment. The landscaping is incredibly beautiful, so are your photographs, Rosemary. Nature’s art is subtle and dynamic at the same time. Thanks for sharing.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - Last Saturday dawned a beautiful day, and the landscape was magical to walk through. A very uplifting day spent with nature in all of her glory.

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  23. Hello Rosemary:
    Stourhead is indeed one of the most remarkable of pleasure grounds, not only for the quality of its plantings but also the series of captivating follies which greet one on one's round tour. It is a National Treasure and deservedly so.

    We have long since held the view that trees are the purest form of gardening and, seeing these wonderful specimens here we remain convinced of this. You have captured the living art of Stourhead and its unique atmosphere beautifully in these words and images.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - I wonder what "Henry the Magnificent" would think if he could see his inspired landscape today, over 250 years after he created it.
      The trees are indeed wonderful specimens at Stourhead, some of which seem to reach forever to the sky. You could not help but be in awe of them.

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  24. WOW!!

    Absolutely stunning photographs of autumn at Stourhead. Bravo...

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    1. Thank you Gaynor for your visit. So pleased that you enjoyed the photos from Stourhead, it was a wonderful day.

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    1. Thank you Federica - glad you enjoyed seeing them.

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