I’m back from my “Garden Tour of England” and as you have learned from the previous post, written by the garden fairies here at The End Cottage, we are caught up with my own garden chores and all the guests are back home! Hence the delay in sharing my adventure!
It takes me months to plan which National Trust properties I will visit. After I decide on the properties I determine as many public and private gardens as I can in close proximity to the National Trust sights that I have picked out, and voila, my schedule of touring is complete! There is so much to see and do! So, let’s take a walk through the grounds and home of the Hoare family, here at Stourhead. It is the first of many delights this year on my Garden Tour of England. I have separated the posts into the house and to follow, the gardens.
The Story of Harry……… really it starts with all those Henrys and Richards in the Hoare family, who had nicknames of “good,” “magnificent,” and “naughty” to tell them apart. Sir Richard Hoare, was a goldsmith, in 1673, in London. Goldsmiths had secure premises and were the storehouses for cash and valuables so they were in a unique position to start a system of banking: lending their customers money for interest. He was granted the Freedom of the Goldsmith’s Company on July 5th, 1672 and this marked the foundation of the Hoare’s Bank. He was knighted by Queen Anne in 1702 and then became Lord Mayor of London in 1712. His son, Good Henry, was a partner in the family bank, Hoare and Co. Henry the Good, lived at the bank during the week and wanted a country estate for holidays and leisure. In 1717 he bought the medieval Stourton estate for 14,000 pounds and renamed it Stourhead after the source of the Stour River. He built Stourhead House based on a 16th century Venetian villa, but died before his grand design was completed. Henry Hoare, “the Magnificent,” grandson of Richard, and son of Henry the Good, dominated the family with his wealth and personal charisma and was a great patron of the arts. He expanded the estate and the gardens that were considered a showcase. The garden was completed in 1770 and it’s fame spread quickly and became a must see destination with the breathtaking landscape and classical temples set around the lake. The grounds included a Grotto, a Gothic Cottage, the Pantheon, the Temple of Apollo, and the Temple of Flora.
Sir Henry Ainslie Hoare (perhaps the naughty) and his wife Augusta inherited Stourhead in 1883, but it soon spiraled into decay when costs grew impossible to manage, because she loved living in the country and he preferred city life. Ainslie’s flamboyant lifestyle forced him to leave the bank and auction Stourhead paintings, furniture and books. He left Stourhead in 1885.
In 1894, after the death of his cousin, Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare and his wife Alda, inherited the unoccupied house that had sat empty for 10 years and the 2,650 acre estate with the run down, neglected and overgrown gardens. They decided to pack up and leave their home, Wavendom in Buckinghamshire, and move with their son, Harry Hoare, to Stourhead, to create a special home for their only son. Harry and his parents loved the estate and worked hard to make it the beauty it once had been.
I love that Poppy Red Color!
In 1902, a fire broke out in a chimney and burned for hours. The center of the house collapsed from the attic down to the cellars. The family, servants, gardeners, estate workers and farm hands worked to salvage as much as possible from the burning building. Paintings were cut from their frames and furniture was thrown out of windows. The Hoares worked again to restore the house they so loved, especially for Harry, since he had grown up here and loved every inch of the place and this would always be his home. As you can see from the many rooms of Stourhead, saving everything would have been quite a challenge! It was vast with huge collections of Everything!
On August 1, 1914, Harry joined the Dorset Yeomanry and within a week he was no longer the estate manager, working for his father, but a soldier fighting for his country. His military career was plagued with injury and ill health and every time he was taken ill he would return to Stourhead to be cared for by his parents. After each recovery Harry returned to the battlefield.
During WWI the house and grounds were opened to the “Tommies” from the nearby Red Cross Hospital at Mere. Alda made arrangement for the soldiers to have outings on the property. Especially popular with the men was fishing in the Flora Bay and afterwards Alda would serve tea to all the boys at The Flora Temple. Flowers, grapes and vegetables were also sent to support the troops at the hospital.
On December 19, 1917, Captain Henry Holt Arthur Hoare (Harry), was shot in the lungs at the Battle of El Mugher in Palestine and died of his wounds in Raseltin Hospital in Alexandria. He was buried in the Hadra Military Cemetery there. Harry’s parents were devastated after his untimely death and made plans to bequeath the home and grounds to charity, opening the estate to visitors. On show days visitors were shown around by the butler or the head housemaid, following strict rules. In 1946, one year before the death of Harry’s father, the estate was split and half was gifted to the National Trust and half remains in family ownership.
Visiting this extraordinary house and gardens was made that much more interesting by learning about the family, the house and grounds. That’s what makes the estates in the National Trust so interesting, they are preserving History! Particularly fun was the large display of 19th century women’s hats found in the estate ticket office! Women and children spent a lot of time trying on the hats and primping in front of the mirrors! A first for me in a National Trust property!
Hoare and Co. is the oldest private bank in the United Kingdom. As the business prospered it was moved to 37 Fleet Street, where it still is today and run by the 11th generation of Hoare’s direct descendants.
Next we’ll visit the Gardens at Stourhead! See you there!