Sunday, 12 July 2015
The Ancient Temples of Stourhead
Although I’ve been to Stourhead many times (it’s now owned by the National Trust, and just over the border from Somerset in Wiltshire), it was only on my last visit, six weeks ago, that it occurred to me to take some photographs. At the risk of being confused with Paul Jackson’s blog, Random Encounters with the Unusual, I thought I’d show a selection of them here (Paul hasn’t done Stourhead yet, although he did do a post about King Alfred’s Tower which is close by and dates from the same period).
The largest of Stourhead’s temples is the Pantheon, seen in the picture at the top of this post. As the name suggests, this is a kind of scaled-down version of the Pantheon in Rome (although with a much more picturesque setting). It was built in 1753 to a design by the architect Henry Flitcroft, who was also responsible for King Alfred’s Tower. In literal terms a “pantheon” would be a temple to “all the gods”, but at Stourhead it’s more a case of “all the classical–looking statues Henry Hoare II could get his hands on”. In pride of place at the centre is the Graeco-Roman hero Hercules, flanked by the Roman goddesses Diana, Flora and Ceres, the Greek hero Meleager, the Egyptian goddess Isis and even the Christian heroine St Susanna! Here is my picture of the Isis statue: