Posted by: Lauren | April 3, 2012

King Alfred’s Tower – quick update

Photo by Tom Dyke at Stourhead


King Alfred’s Tower has been closed due to an unsafe roof-covering in one of the three turrets.

Scaffolding will now be going up on Thursday this week so that the tower can be re-opened for visitors during the spring and summer.

Stay posted for more information in the coming days.



A member of our Visitor Experience team, Charlotte, took a day out of the office to spend with the garden team, to help look after and maintain Stourhead’s beautiful grounds.  She wrote a brief report on her experience:


I generally work in the Estate Office at Stourhead, and unfortunately I don’t get out around the property as much as I should. But last week I had the opportunity to do some hands on work with our fabulous garden team.

At first I was worried about what would be in store. I had been threatened with tree climbing and helping with the inspections – my fear of heights would have been a problem with this!

Luckily I was asked to help with the pruning of Hydrangeas which can take up to 3 weeks to complete. Now..I am not a green fingered person, but luckily, I could easily identify the hydrangeas, which I thought was a good starting point (but I was still very apprehensive!)

The evening before I was due to do this, I started to wonder how best to get the gardeners to be gentle with me, therefore I got baking. Our team of gardeners is very food-orientated. No wonder considering how physical their work is.

The cakes went down a storm. As I arrived at 8am, arms laden with Tupperware, the gardeners were keen to get going as the weather was dry and bright, so out we went to start the day.

After a little tuition, as to the best way to prune a hydrangea, I got stuck in, taking out the older branches from the base, and leaving the younger growth, as well as dead-heading this younger growth. I was a little scared at first, worried of taking out too much, but after lots of encouragement from the team and their small army of volunteers, I was fearless. Fearless but slow!

The work was tiring – you had to crawl in amongst some of the bushes and be careful to cut the right branches that were often grown behind the younger, fresher shoots. Unfortunately this did mean that your arms started to ache, and I ended up with half a forest in my hair!

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my day, and plan to spend another day with the garden team soon. It was fantastic to see another side of the property, as well as to get to know the team better. I now have an even greater respect for the work that they do!

The Duke of Cornwall spinal treatment centre in Salisbury is creating a new rehabilitation garden, called ‘Horatio’s garden’, to provide its patients with a place of tranquility and beauty to enjoy during their long stays in Salisbury.

To support and raise money for this fantastic project, the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust (SSIT) are hosting a series of garden-related talks, with plenty of food and drink on offer. The first two, given by Sarah Raven (best known from Gardeners’ World), were well attended with 140 people showing their support.

Broadcaster and writer, Alys Fowler

The next talk is due to take place on 13 April at Yeo Valley’s organic garden in Blagdon (BS40 7SQ). It will be delivered by the writer and broadcaster, Alys Fowler, and will provide an interesting lesson in producing fruit and veg within a beautiful, flower-filled garden.

The event will last from 10.30am-3.30pm and will include a delicious tw0-course lunch as well as a tour of Yeo Valley’s inspirational, contemporary garden. Tickets are £75 each – please visit Southern Spinal Injuries Trust website, or phone 0793 505  4622 to secure yours and help support this worthy cause.

Further information can also be sought from Sue Hall (email or call 01985 841194).

Find out more about the Horatio garden appeal by watching the video blog.

Posted by: Lauren | March 27, 2012

Signs of spring at Stourhead

Stourhead has welcomed some new arrivals this month with the birth of 4 lambs! These new additions to the Six Wells sheep society are particularly exciting because they were born as a quad (which is very unusual, especially for a Wiltshire Horn!) Adorable photos taken by our ranger, Tam, are below.  Spring has sprung!

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Posted by: Lauren | March 21, 2012

Shop for Easter

Some of our Easter treats

For everything egg, chocolate or chick-related this Easter, pay a visit to the Stourhead shop!

Get your tasty Cadbury’s Easter chick, then why not take part in our family-friendly Easter egg trail on Sunday 8 and Monday 9 April? See you then!

Download our newsletter from our main website to find out what else is happening at Stourhead this spring.

Our fantastic Easter chicks!

Posted by: Lauren | March 20, 2012

Our Dormouse-mats are in!

Dormouse box nesting in action!

500 Dormouse-mats were delivered to Stourhead yesterday. They will be available in the shop for people to pick up for a donation.

Donations will be collected at the till-point and we ask for a minimum of £2 to ensure we make a profit to put towards our Dormouse project (supporting and encouraging populations of the endangered Hazel Dormouse, Britain’s only native species).

Visit soon to ensure you get yours and contribute to this worthy cause!

Thanks go to the Stourhead volunteer club for sponsoring and supporting this project.


Posted by: Lauren | March 20, 2012

Garden team update from Emily

The planting frenzy has started!

Now that pruning and soil improvement has taken place at the Temple of Flora, we were able to plant five additional birch trees southeast of the temple last Friday. They are about 8ft tall, so they make an impact quicker, and have a vertical watering pipe on the edge of the planting hole so we can water from below the rootplate through the summer. This encourages suitable root formation as opposed to surface roots. On the opposite side of the village lake-arm we have completed the tidy-up for the spring having removed stumps and weeds. In autumn we aim to plant trees such as Magnolias, plants that were used by Henry the Magnificent. At the same time we gave our carpenter and building maintenance guru (an all around nice bloke!) Brian a hand installing the new railings for the village entrance kiosk. We then headed for oak patch across the lake where many leaves needed collecting. But we also wanted to finish removing the Rhododendron ponticum that the London and West Middlesex working holiday team started last year. We are now ready to plant young and healthy Rhododendrons that won’t grow into monsters!

We have also been back in the nuttery, next to the walled gardens. You may remember the Amber Foundation helping us clear laurel to extend the nuttery last year. We have now planted 26 Filbert and Cobnut shrubs to accompany the Cobnuts planted in the 1940’s. I captured Penny and Mark removing the last of the laurel as we finished planting quicker than expected. Big up us. And this week we moved into the top walled garden to divide and propagate herbaceous plants in the hot border and a few other places. Propagated material will be ready to sell later this year, but more importantly the plants were in need of rejuvenation and should now provide a good display of late summer colour and healthy, vigorous growth.

Enjoy! Thanks, Em.

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Posted by: Lauren | March 16, 2012

Thanks to our fundraisers!

Our stunning new Picture Gallery seats



A quick thank you message to our Fundraising team here at Stourhead for their sterling efforts during 2011, raising £4000 through raffle sales. Thanks to their hard-work, we have been able to purchase new seating for the Picture Gallery as well as new garden benches and recycling bins – fantastic!

Posted by: Lauren | March 9, 2012

King Alfred’s Tower – conservation work

Photo taken by Tom Dyke - Stourhead

King Alfred’s Tower will not be able to open this weekend as planned, due to damage sustained to its roof over the winter months.

1 of the 3 turrets is in need of some extensive repairs and a scaffolding platform will need to be erected before it is safe for visitors to walk on the roof.

We hope to reopen the tower early in April so that people can enjoy the wonderful views it offers over the 3 counties of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Stay posted and I’ll update as and when I learn more.

In other news, the first stage of the Pantheon conservation work has been carried out, preventing futher water penetration to the portico roof. Barriers are currently in place for everybody’s safety but we still hope to open the Pantheon, along with our other garden buildings, on Wednesdays and Thursdays in April and May.

Posted by: Lauren | March 9, 2012

Stourhead house – opening this weekend

Visit Stourhead house on a spring day out

Stourhead house reopens all its rooms to visitors this weekend (10 March, 11am-5pm), with a new and improved story to tell.

Our House and Collections Trainee, Jenna, with the help of a fantastic group of volunteers, has been working hard on developing the story of Richard Colt Hoare, bringing to life his extraordinary influence on Stourhead.

Colt Hoare’s travels to Italy, as well as his tumultuous relationship with his son, are key focuses on the tour around the house. There are audio recordings of quotes from letters between Colt Hoare and his son, and his travel notes and sketches are laid out for visitors to read in the Library.

The Picture Gallery (which is my favourite room!) now has custom-made, beautiful seating which means you can sit, relax and really appreciate the paintings. Easels around the room highlight different details in the paintings and contain quotes from Richard Colt Hoare himself, expressing his own views on the collection.

The saloon has also been completely revamped, with a druggett in place to allow visitors to walk right into the centre of the room, to take in the fantastic collection of Chippendale furniture (the largest in the world I am told!) The saloon was once a room of celebration and activity, and this has been recreated for visitors to imagine – with games laid out on tables and a piano for visitors to play.

The aim is to get people more involved in the history and stories of Stourhead, and to encourage a hands-on experience. The house will be open Friday-Tuesday (starting from Saturday 10 March), from 11am-5pm. Please do pay us a visit and let me know what you think!

Please note that last entry to the house is 4.30pm

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