To be honest, we were gob-smacked when we walked into the landscaped gardens of Stowe.
We knew, of course, that Stowe was home to a top private school, but the National Trust website (and our own ignorance) had not prepared us for the other institution whose activities are part of these romantic landscape gardens. The Trust told us this ...
A monumental day outEmbark on a journey, follow in the footsteps of 18th-century tourists and immerse yourself in 250 acres of stunning, informal landscape.
A short walk down the drive and a vast landscape opens up rewarding you with a breathtaking view across the lake. With over 40 historic temples and monuments, each with their own story, our gardens incorporate history, nature and beauty in majestic surroundings.
The sheer size and space make it perfect for those who love the outdoors and enjoy walking whatever the weather, with each season bringing its own delights and unique sights. Activities, events and a wide range of walks and trails make it an ideal day out for the family throughout the year.
...but not about this.
Unexpected activity on the South Vista.
Here is Venus in the Rotunda, overlooking the longest hole on the course (with a dogleg, still a par 4 and starting with a tight drive between trees.)
The Corinthian Arch, beyond the Western Lake Pavilion.
Thankfully, a visit to Stowe is not all birdies and bogeys. In the first half of the 18th century, Richard Temple, Lord Cobham, created the spectacular landscaped gardens, so the National Trust tells us, as an expression of his Whig political views.
Captain Greville's column points the way to the Temple of Ancient Virtue.
From the high ground at Ancient Virtue there is a view across the Elysian Fields, down to the Temple of British Worthies, showing symbolically that British leaders should always look up to and be inspired by ancient Greece.
Another British Worthy or is it a Virtuous Ancient?
There is much more in this garden to ogle.
The Palladian Bridge
Captain Cook's Monument
The Saxon Deities - please find me a plinth!
The Gothic Temple is our favourite and you can stay here yourself, courtesy of the Landmark Trust. Rumour has it that next year the golf balls will be whizzing around on a brand new course, on the outer edges of the landscaped gardens, to the great delight of the National Trust and other sensitive souls. Stowe will be restored to its original serenity.