A Work to Wonder at: Restoring Stowe House for the Nation

When Alexander Pope wrote of it as ‘a work to wonder at’ Stowe was being forged into a masterpiece of environmental design. Built between 1680 and 1810, Stowe House sits in 400 acres of landscaped park in Buckinghamshire. It became the principal temple in a collection of over 40 buildings including bridges, grottoes and memorials, most of which still punctuate the landscape. A Georgian palace in glowing golden limestone, the house itself was shaped by the finest talents of the time, amongst them Sir John Vanbrugh, William Kent, Robert Adam, and Sir John Soane. Stowe quickly became an inspiration for architects and designers all over the world, its influence visible in places as distant as Germany and Russia.

Yet the house’s survival within its setting is almost as miraculous as its beauty. For two hundred years time, nature and neglect have worn away at the stonework and the fine interiors. Thankfully, the future of the gardens – themselves containing no fewer than 27 Grade I listed buildings – was assured when, in 1990, they came under the care of the National Trust. Then, in 1999, the Stowe House Preservation Trust accepted a daunting challenge: the restoration and public opening of the great house itself.

World Monuments Fund included Stowe in its 2002 Watch List of Endangered Sites and supported the project by substantially funding the restoration of the focal Marble Saloon through a WMF Robert W. Wilson Challenge grant. But now further help is needed if the ‘Stowe Partnership’, which encompasses World Monuments Fund and the Stowe House Preservation Trust, is to realise the potential of this exceptional site. We have secured over £7m of our £10.5m target from generous donors and need £3.5m to complete the main project.

Through the generosity of an anonymous donor this target amount will be matched 1:1, doubling the value of your donation. Any additional funding raised will enable us to continue with further elements of the interior and exterior work.

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