02 July 2014

Stowe House

Stowe House
Today after another journey via motor coach our class arrived at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire. Stowe is a large and beautiful eighteenth-century house and garden that has been used as a school since the early twentieth century. The history of the house and its library was fascinating and read much like a BBC drama! Carol Miller, the librarian at Stowe House, told us the tale of the Temple-Grenvilles and their money problems which led to the house's colorful history. The contents of the house were sold off three times to pay off debt, and then when the last family member perished the house was sold (empty) to the organization that turned it into a school. The school started in 1923 with 99 boys and has grown to its current size of 780 students of both genders.

Stowe library
The library itself has a varied history -- it started as a ballroom, was divided into two rooms, and then was made into one large room once again. The third incarnation in 1797 is when it became a library. Non-fiction and reference books are housed here, and fiction is in another adjacent room. The £86,000 ceiling was added later, and shines with 23 1/2 karat gold leaf. The ceiling is gorgeous and rivals the ceilings in many of the palaces in and around London. Because the books were all sold off, old books were donated in the 1920s to serve as shelf fillers. Some of these books are still on the shelves today.

Gothic Temple

Me and Liz
While the house is impressive, the grounds are even more so. There are 40 monuments and temples in the gardens, which are now under the protection of the National Trust. There are several classically-inspired structures throughout the grounds, each with its own theme and style. We weren't able to explore all of them during our time on the grounds, but one of my favorite temples was the Gothic Temple. I'm a sucker for Gothic architecture in general, but I loved how the building felt remote even though it is a part of the larger network of Stowe. You can rent the Gothic Temple for a vacation, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to go back! There was also a monument to British heroes like William Shakespeare, John Locke, and Sir Isaac Newton, but I was most excited about getting to take my picture with the bust of Queen Elizabeth I.

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