- Discover the beauty of Stourhead House and its incredible collection of heirlooms.
- See the artistically created gardens highlighting 300 years of history.
- Enjoy a variety of Stourhead walks to show you the whole area.
- Find delicious food and fascinating curios in the shops and restaurants that Stourhead has to offer.
Stourhead is a 2,650-acre National Trust estate near Mere, Wiltshire; the Stourhead estate is made up of a Grade I listed 18th-century Palladian mansion, the village of Stourton itself, parkland, farmland, and woodland. If you're a fan of grand houses like Blenheim Palace, or expansive gardens like Kew, you’ll love Stourhead.
The Stourhead house was lived in by the Stourton family for 500 years, before being sold to Sir Thomas Meres in 1714, and eventually reaching the Hoare family. The Hoares collected many heirlooms over 200 years, including saving them from a fire, and Henry Hoare’s collection is now on display. Featured in the ‘Painted Alcove’ or Italian Room, these stunning art pieces have been hand-coloured with such skill they were mistaken for oil paintings. Also in the house, you can find the Library’s lunette window, a stunning example by Francis Eginton. Conservators worked from 2016 to 2020 to make sure the window could continue to be viewed, and it has returned to Stourhead.
The Stourhead gardens were laid out by Henry Hoare II and architect Henry Flitcroft, and the path around the artificial lake is meant to represent Aeneas’ descent to the underworld. Directly across from the lake is the Pantheon, with its newly repaired roof and fascinating interior with mock-ancient statues added in the 16th century. Can you spot the five-arched Palladian bridge? What about the Gothic Cottage summer house? For trees, you can find oaks, sycamores, ashes and Spanish chestnuts, as well as others. Colours have been put together within the garden to evoke different moods so that the greens will contrast, and the reds of autumn will come together at different times of the year. If you’re interested in looking at the art of gardening, this is a great visual place to do so.
Stourhead walks have been developed to show you different areas around the site. Stourhead King Alfred’s Tower walk takes visitors through the woodlands to King Alfred’s tower, where it is believed that King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878, and was created to honour the accession of George III to the throne in 1760 and the end of the Seven Years War. You are taken back past the Park Hill Camp Iron Age Hill Fort and Turner’s Paddock. It is two hours, dog-friendly, and 5.5 miles. The Stourhead Park Hill Camp walk is much shorter, at only 3 miles and is 1 hour and 15 minutes as well as being dog-friendly. You’ll be able to see Park Hill Camp Iron Age hill fort in more detail and pass through Six Wells Valley. See bluebells, and hear tree creepers and long-tailed tits. Finally, for the visitors who love views, is the Stourhead Whitesheet Hill walk. A challenging dog-friendly walk, you will spend 3 hours and 30 minutes walking 6 miles and going back to the Bronze Age. The Downlands are home to a variety of animals too, so are perfect for those who want to spot something new.
A Stourhead Christmas is something to behold. With a beautiful soundtrack going, you can walk through the lit-up trees and spot sculptures on the Crocus Lawn. With giant baubles and colour changing ribbons, it is a true winter wonderland for any family. See if you can find Santa amongst the Stourhead magic.
While there are many places to shop around Stourhead, one of the best is the Stourhead Farm Shop; a traditional butchers, cheesemongers and delicatessen. Feeling like you’re living that village life has never been so easy. For eating, the Spread Eagle Inn is a country pub at the centre of the estate, or you could try Stourhead’s restaurant for something lighter.
What to know before you go
- Stourhead opening times vary depending on the time of year, so check online before you visit.
- When you arrive, have your ticket in hand to show to staff through your car window.
- Wheelchair-users will require an all-terrain wheelchair in the garden due to stony and steep descents. Two mountain trike wheelchairs are available for hire.
- Buggies are welcome in the garden, but bear in mind the terrain you will be on.
- An accessible toilet can be found at reception along with baby changing facilities. Other non-accessible toilets can be found in Spread Eagle Courtyard.
- Picnics are welcome, though there is also a restaurant and kiosk if you want to buy food on site.
- There is a gift shop, where you can buy a souvenir.
- The shuttle bus and garden buggy are not running.
- Stourhead walks need to be booked ahead.
- At Stourhead, dogs are welcome in the garden after 2pm until the 8th November 2020; after this, they will be welcome all day until March 2021. Dogs must be on a short lead.
- Stourhead is easily accessible by the main road network.
- You can get a bus from Warminster and Shaftesbury and alight at Zeals.
- Gillingham and Bruton are the closest train stations.
- Stourhead is part of the Wiltshire cycleway.