We had a real treat recently with our trip to Stourhead which is a National Trust estate with huge gardens and house. We won a family ticket which was a thrill in itself and we wanted to go somewhere that we hadn’t previously heard of.
My OH and I had a look through the national trusts site. With our need to have somewhere; family friendly, a long walk and a good house to have a nose around, coupled with somewhere within 1 to 2 hrs drive, we settled on Stourhead in Wiltshire. It seemed to have all the elements that would suit us. It does state that no balls are to be taken for the kids and I can understand that they don’t want a football to go hurtling into all their beautiful plants and flowers.
We packed a good old family picnic in the morning and set out on our trip. It didn’t take too long to get there from our home in Dorset, just over an hour. Our prize ticket did work OK. I’m always a little worried when using a voucher or something that ‘the computer says no’ or there is a problem with that day or time being excluded. Everything was fine though.
The house is stunning and you can see from this view looking up from the gardens that it is framed really well by the care that is taken over the gardens. you can also see by the dark clouds that rain was a feature of our day too!
The literature and the information around the house charts the lives of the last family to have Stourhead, parents Henry and Alda Hoare and their only son Harry. The family were devoted to each other and to Stourhead. Behind the public rooms used for entertaining and shared with visitors were the intimate family spaces where the family could relax and be themselves.
As you move around the family home, you follow in the family’s footsteps from their arrival and through the war years. Henry and Alda were devastated when Harry was killed in World War 1. They gave Stourhead to the National Trust in 1946.
In the playrooms there were dressing up areas for the children to try on clothes from the era that the family were in residence. Our boys had some fun in there. It’s a good break if you are doing the tour in the house with children as they can let off a little steam without worrying that they will upset anyone.
There is also a picture quiz where they have to go round and find pictures of dogs in different paintings around the house. The boys love a bit of competition between themselves so it was another task to keep them occupied.
So much care and dedication was put into the gardens by the family, it was such a labour of love for them.
“The greens should be ranged together in large masses as the shades are in painting: to contrast the dark masses with light ones, and to relieve each dark mass itself with little sprinkling of lighter greens here and there.“
Dogs are welcome across Stourhead’s countryside areas all year round. They are welcome in the landscape garden from March-October after 4pm, after 3pm in November and all day, every day from December-February.
The kitchen gardens were in full bloom. The plants were massive and growing so well. I would of loved to chatted with one of the gardeners to get some tips but I didn’t manage to. In one of my posts where my OH made my pallet garden you can see what we have managed at home. I’m really chuffed with what we have managed on a small scale and for free! My dream would be to have a huge garden devoted to fruit and veg.
The visit was wonderful and I think the rain added to the day in ways that surprised me. There were times we had to stop and take shelter under some of the huge trees or hide under the arches. In those times we felt some more of the magic of Stourhead.
Have you been there or visited other walks that you would like to share? I’d love to hear about it.