Stourhead & King Alfred’s Towerback
When Stourhead first opened in the 1740s, a magazine described it as “a living work of art”. This unique Palladian mansion has a world-famous landscape garden, complete with a magnificent lake reflecting classical temples, mystical grottoes, and rare and exotic trees. The Hoare family, who were also previous owners of Durslade Farm, the site where Hauser & Wirth Somerset is located, has a history that can be uncovered in Stourhead House. The house features a Regency library and fabulous collections of Chippendale furniture and paintings, all set amid delightful lawns, parkland, and a 1,072-hectare nature conservation estate.
Henry Hoare designed the garden as his own personal landscape, drawing inspiration from his Grand Tour around Europe. Over the years, subsequent owners have made alterations, but the original inspiration can still be seen. One of the most significant impacts came when Sir Richard Colt Hoare inherited the garden in 1793 and planted over 90,000 trees in just 13 years. Take a stroll around the gardens, discover this history, and then enjoy a delicious picnic packed with treats from Durslade Farm Shop on a picnic blanket in the gardens.
King Alfred’s Tower is a folly linked to the Stourhead estate, built in 1772, standing on top of Kingsettle hill. Made from over 1 million bricks, work on the tower began in 1762. Its size and beauty make it an imposing addition to the landscape, and the views from the top are breathtaking. The tower was intended to commemorate the end of the Seven Years’ War against France and supposedly stands near the location where it is believed that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, rallied the Saxons in 878 before defeating the Danish army. Climb up 49 metres high taking 205 steps to the top, where you can enjoy fantastic 360-degree views.
Take the circular 5.5-mile walk starting at Stourhead to King Alfred’s tower through beautiful woodlands, Park Hill Camp Iron Age hillfort, and Turner’s paddock. Alternatively, there is a small car park a short walk from the tower if you prefer to drive.