Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire.

Desperately seeking autumn…

For anyone interested in the classic eighteenth century landscaped garden, Stowe is a must visit location. Or you might just be like me, desperate to find some proper autumn colours.

If you read my ramblings over at Mostly Motley, you’ll know that the autumn display has been a bit subdued around here, so a couple of weeks ago, we went off to Stowe, because let’s be honest, if they can’t put on a show there, nowhere can.

IMAG3777Now, Stowe is the quintessential eighteenth century English landscaped garden – which means vistas and temples and lakes…

IMAG3695and in many ways you can quickly forget that you live in the twenty-first century (well so long as you avoid the schoolboys on cross-country runs or the gentleman golfers),Β 

IMAG3764so it probably shouldn’t surprise me, that I often experience a type of time-slip when I’m there. Do you know the story about the two English ladies who visited Versailles in 1901 and thought they’d met the ghost of Marie-Antoinette, sketching outside the Petit Trianon just as the Revolution started. (It’s a fabulous tale, whether you believe it or not) – the ladies said they’d become lost in the grounds of Versailles, and thought they’d found themselves seeing the Petit Trianon as it was in 1789.

Well, when I wander around Stowe, I feel as if I’ve stepped back in time too. It really wouldn’t disturb me at all to see groups of aristocratic ladies and gentlemen strolling along in Georgian dress – enormous powdered wigs, fans and all. Actually I think the National Trust should have costumes available at the entrance, so those of us with unfulfilled dressing-up aspirations could indulge our fantasies.

IMAG3725Imagine taking tea in this temple.

IMAG3708or exploring the secret garden path, with your silk skirts brushing the ground.

IMAG3702Here’s a Chinese house – for adult playtime Georgian style.

IMAG3696Or perhaps you might be inspired to write one of those new-fangled Gothic Romances.

IMAG3718There are plenty of follies to fuel your imagination. And temples galore…

IMAG3727IMAG3759IMAG3781Which is just as well, because, to be entirely honest, the colours were still a little bit disappointing this year – but at least at Stowe there’s so much else to occupy your thoughts and you don’t have to have a riot of colour to stimulate your more romantic tendencies.

Apparently there are around 40 follies in the 250 acres of Stowe gardens. I’m not sure that we’ve ever found them all, but then we’re not really into ‘ticking things off’ – and there’s always a little frisson when you round a bend and find yourself in front of a temple you haven’t noticed before. But then of course the romantic in me wants to believe the occasional time-slip is a real possibility…

Stowe – simply gorgeous – at any time.


PS: Stowe has new visitor facilities – what a relief, the old ones really were awful – so now if you go on a cold afternoon, you’ll be able to warm up with a hot chocolate (complete with marshmallows) in the lovely new cafe, and thank goodness, the new toilets are fine – phew!

For National Trust visitor information, click here.


11 thoughts on “Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire.

  1. Jo Woolf says:

    What a lovely place – I have never visited, so it’s great to see such a beautiful and grand old building, with all its follies and gardens. I think I recognise one of them from a previous ‘window’ post!? I would SO love to meet some of its former occupants while walking around the grounds! I clicked on the link about the Versailles ladies, but it didn’t seem to work (probably a fault at my end). But dressing up in period costume would come a close second! That’s a great idea – I think more stately homes should offer this! πŸ™‚ That’s a shame about the lack of autumn colour, but I still enjoyed the walk!

      • Jo Woolf says:

        Thank you very much for adding the link – that is fascinating! I believe the two ladies, while being totally unable to explain their story. The fact that one of them returned to Versailles to see it again has to be proof of something!

  2. Anny says:

    Oh Jo, thanks for letting me know – I think I’ve mended the link – please tell me if it’s still not working. Would be lovely wouldn’t it to have a period dress weekend – maybe they’d think about it, after all there were hundreds of people in Bath all dressed up for the Austen weekend. πŸ™‚

  3. blosslyn says:

    Lovely place….went many years ago, lovely photos, nice to visit it again. We use to dress up every weekend when we belonged to an enacting village, this was in the reign of King Charles (the 1st one, because as far as we were concern there was only the 1st one) The paying public would come and visit the village and we would speak old english, so much fun. It would be a lovely idea to dress up and stroll through the lovely gardens πŸ™‚

  4. Perpetua says:

    Stately homes often provide costumes for visiting schoolchildren, so why not for adults? I’d love to drift around in mid-18th century costume – panniers and wigs, not Jane Austen muslin, as befits all that Palladian grandeur. πŸ™‚

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