As you know if you’re a long-term reader here, one of our favourite places to visit is Stowe Landscape Gardens. It’s one of our nearest National Trust sites and somewhere we all enjoy spending time. During the half term holidays we’d had a busy few days out on long distance drives and wanted to spend a quiet day, somewhere local. We all agreed that Stowe was an ideal option and off we headed. But on this trip we’d also spend time exploring Stowe House for the very first time.
You can’t miss seeing the facade of Stowe House when you visit the Landscape Gardens as it holds a prominent position and I guess, over the years it’s a view we rather take for granted.
We’ve not spent time exploring Stowe House before as it’s run separately from the National Trust part of the estate and isn’t always open. The house itself is actually home these day to the private boarding school and we’d seen some of the rooms on Alan Titchmarsh’s TV series The Secrets of the National Trust when he visited Stowe.
You can buy tickets to visit Stowe House from the NT visitor centre or from the entrance to the house itself. Children under 16 have free entry and NT members get discounted tickets, which can also be used as an annual pass. During term time you would need to join a guided tour, but in school holidays you can tour the property by yourself, which always works better with children I find.
We hadn’t actually planned on spending time exploring Stowe House at all, but as we were walking round the grounds, my son spotted that the house was open and we were all actually together, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally visit.
Once we’d sorted out our tickets we were free to explore the open rooms, starting with an interactive introduction to a few of the previous occupants on this illustrious house, including its first owner, Lord Cobham.
My son was enthralled by the moving, talking people in the frames, a great way to engage children and help them to learn a bit of history too.
There’s also an area where you can picture yourself wearing different wig styles. My son wouldn’t let me take his photo putting them to the test but we did all have a giggle.
When exploring Stowe House there is a small museum telling visitors more about the history of the house as well as more on its present reincarnation as a private school. There was a formal tour taking place as we walked through, and as much as his father and I would have liked to spend more time in this area, my son was off. He’d spotted a staircase which needed exploring.
As you walk through the various rooms you absolutely have to look up. The ceilings are incredible, with so much detail.
It’s hard to imagine how it must feel to go to school in such a beautiful building. Maybe you become blind to the beauty if you see it every day, but these ceilings definitely beat the ones at my son’s school!
We all marvelled at the school library, what a stunning space.
It was also nice to see a view we love from a different perspective.
We wandered from room to room, admiring the decoration as we passed.
The highlight of our time exploring Stowe House was when my son decided to give a speech on democracy. This, the boy who is very shy and barely raises his hand in class. And what a topic. I was rather proud of him on both count, even if his audience were only his parents.
We had a lovely time exploring behind the facade of Stowe House, of course no visit would be complete without saying hello to the Lions. A favourite with my son for years now.
He was soon wandering off along one of the well trodden paths around Stowe Landscape Gardens. He knows his way round so well that he’s more than happy to lead the way.
Water features never cease to fascinate, we don’t visit this particular fountain very often, so we had to stop and admire all the details before moving on.
There are two must do things whenever we’re at Stowe, one is to cross the white wooden ‘troll bridge’ and the other is to visit my son’s favourite trees. I’ve got a series of canvas prints over the last few years, standing in this tree. Time for an update apparently.
I think this might actually be my favourite shot though, he may not like to be known as Monkey these days, but he still is very much one when it suits!
We had a lovely afternoon in one of our favourite places with the added bonus of spending time exploring Stowe House. I do love trips that just evolve, don’t you?