Pictures not words

4 October 2015
Ben Pentreath

It was a beautiful morning in Dorset… pale sunshine, filtered mist. This blog (you’ll be glad to hear) is one of those which has not very much to say – but a lot to look at.
P1030151 P1030152P1030148 P1030154 P1030159 P1030160 P1030163 P1030164 P1030168 P1030169 P1030173 P1030175

I walked down to the Lake while Charlie bustled around in the flower room, getting ready for the pop-up…P1030184 P1030186 P1030187 P1030188 P1030192 P1030194The morning was stunning.  We had a lazy breakfast, and tea with our neighbours, and pottered around, but that’s basically all we’d done yesterday too. Charlie said… “I think we need to do something”. And I thought that we should go to Stourhead.

For most the readers, this – I suppose the most famous English landscape garden of all time – will probably need no introduction. As it happened, it was Charlie’s first visit, and the first time I’d been in years. I well remember walking around, in February or March, a freezing, empty, closed-up Stourhead House (and Park) when, I suppose it must have been eight or nine years ago now, I was designing the National Trust range of plaster cornices (which you can buy from Stevensons of Norwich). I hadn’t been back since that magical cold day.

Everything was looking beautiful, the first hint of autumn colour appearing in the trees.

We started in the walled garden, which is just about perfect, and has provided Charlie with the evidence he needs that next year he’s going to grow our veg down the slopes, not along it.P1030207 P1030208

The Pelargonium house.P1030209 P1030211 P1030213 P1030216

The cutting garden.P1030221 P1030222 P1030227 P1030229 P1030230

The house is delicate and dolls-house like, despite its classical severity, but we didn’t go in this time.P1030234 P1030235

The first glimpse of the classical landscape is breathtaking.P1030241 P1030242 P1030243 P1030247 P1030251 P1030256 P1030258 The grotto, complete with statues of water nymphs and Neptune at the source of the lake:

With its startling view across the shimmering water.P1030273 P1030282

I loved the ferny mossy roof of the grotto.P1030284

Across the water are glimpses to the Temple of Flora, but we were on our way next to the Pantheon.P1030289

Its cool grey moss-encrusted facade is perfect.P1030291 P1030295 P1030299 P1030302 P1030306 Reflections were insane.

And then, our favourite of all; the Temple of Apollo.P1030327 P1030329 P1030332 P1030334

Nice statues.P1030342

Sublime views.P1030344 P1030345

The trees were a deep vivid green.P1030348

And then last, the Temple of Flora, which is a perfect gem; I suppose this is the building you would like to take home in your pocket.P1030353 P1030357 P1030359

On a pane of glass, this beautiful signature.

The view back to the Pantheon must be one of the most sublime in Europe; the whole place a dream landscape – as if you have tumbled into the title page of a book by Rex Whistler. It has an unreality that I find amazingly compelling.P1030374

It’s quite something to take in on a Sunday afternoon walk in the woods. We left happy and sped back to London and a new week.

15 comments on this post

As everybody says, your photos really are a treat, such inspiration, I especially love the one of the light coming through the last of the sweet pea flowers.


Also not been to Stourhead in a while, although it’s not that far away,so many thanks for the tour of the temples. Kitchen garden, tick, dahlias, tick, and an urn. Lovely colour on said urn. In fact gorgeous colours all round. We’re extremely lucky to have seasons. Best, Nicola


Your house looks magical as always. It is like every little girl’s dream doll’s house writ large. Perfect!

Just Beautiful!!!! I would sure love to live there and walk the area every day. So Serene…..relaxing. Thanks for the lovely pictures.
Nancy US-NC

Pierre B.says:

Not much to read but a lot to look at. Your blog really deserves it’s name!
One wonders who this georgian George Wood was…

Christine Mooresays:

Beautiful, just beautiful. That’s all.


This blog makes me want to move across the pond immediately…I always save reading it until midday Monday at work so I can be refreshed by the views.

Mary Nicollsays:


Wow just beautiful Are you sure you’re not sponsored by the English Tourist Board ? X X

Jane Goldingsays:


We have a name engraved on one of our panes of glass – I think it was quite common in the 18th century.

I wish you could somehow make your blog into a book!


Stouhead is always worth a visit whatever the time of year. Thank you for the beautiful photos. Encouraged to know we’re not the only ones to make use of empty niches as photo opportunities.

deby (in Canada)says:

Such a blissful weekend Ben … thanks for stirring up memories. Before Herefordshire captured us for holidays we used to stay at an ancient farmhouse where we could see Alfred’s Tower at Stourhead from the back garden.
Much anticipation for Charlie’s pop-up!
cheers Deby


Your photos are sublime and once again you have
delighted your followers – always inspiring and
uplifting – thank you.


Thank you so much Ben. I may never get to see these and other gardens and homes you profile so it is a real pleasure to see them courtesy of you and your blog. Have a lovel week.
Karen NZ


Beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing such beauty. USA

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