The lake at Stourhead is artificially created. Following a path around the lake is meant to evoke a journey similar to that of Aeneas's descent in to the underworld. In addition to Greek mythology, the layout is evocative of the "genius of the place", a concept made famous by Alexander Pope. Buildings and monuments are erected in remembrance of family and local history. Henry Hoare was a collector of art– one of his pieces was Nicolas Poussin's Aeneas at Delos, which is thought to have inspired the pictorial design of the gardens. Passages telling of Aeneas's journey are quoted in the temples surrounding the lake.
Monuments are used to frame one another; for example the Pantheon designed by Flitcroft entices the visitor over, but once reached, views from the opposite shore of the lake beckon. The use of the sunken path allows the landscape to continue on into neighbouring landscapes, allowing the viewer to contemplate all the surrounding panorama. The Pantheon was thought to be the most important visual feature of the gardens. It appears in many pieces of artwork owned by Hoare, depicting Aeneas's travels. The plantings in the garden were arranged in a manner that would evoke different moods, drawing visitors through realms of thought. According to Henry Hoare, 'The greens should be ranged together in large masses as the shades are in painting: to contrast the dark masses with the light ones, and to relieve each dark mass itself with little sprinklings of lighter greens here and there.
View taken from the Grotto, of the lake in autumn colours
Stourhead's lake and foliage as seen from a high hill vantage point
The gardens were designed by Henry Hoare II and laid out between 1741 and 1780 in a classical 18th-century design set around a large lake, achieved by damming a small stream. The inspiration behind their creation were the painters Claude Lorrain, Poussin, and, in particular, Gaspard Dughet, who painted Utopian-type views of Italian landscapes. It is similar in style to the landscape gardens at Stowe.
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Viewed from the grotto with the palladian bridge in the distance. This is an amazing place where I plan to take a lot more photos early morning in the summer...
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