A book from the Stourhead library

The Library at Stourhead. ©NTPL/Bill Batten

We have just bought back a book that used to be part of the library assembled at Stourhead, Wiltshire, by Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838). The book, a copy of Thomas Philipott’s Villare Cantianum; or Kent Surveyed and Illustrated (1776), was purchased at Bloomsbury Auctions in London.  

Sir Richard Colt Hoare and his son Henry, by Samuel Woodforde. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Colt Hoare amassed a vast collection of books at Stourhead on the history and topography of Britain, arranged by county. Unfortunately these were sold in 1883 and replaced with books from other Hoare properties. But the room is still very much as Colt Hoare commisioned it from achitects Moulton and Atkinson in 1792. It represents his ideal of the scholarly life.

Painted window by Francis Eginton after Raphael's fresco The School of Athens. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The lunettes contain copies of Raphael’s fresco’s The School of Athens and Parnassus in the Vatican, one as a painted window, the other on canvas. The carpet incorporates motifs derived from a Roman tiled pavement and its lattice pattern is reflected in the barrel ceiling.

We will never be able to reassemble Colt Hoare’s library, but the presence of a few books like this one can help to explain to visitors what was once there.

3 Responses to “A book from the Stourhead library”

  1. Hels Says:

    Fortunately the room is still very much as Hoare commisioned it towards the end of the 18th century. It reflected perfectly the joys of art and architecture that he saw on his grand tour across France, Italy and Switzerland *sighs happily* And as a library, this room represented his ideal of classicism and the scholarly life even better than he could have in a lounge room or a dining room.

    But it is random luck that the room survived…. everything beautiful can be destroyed over time. Tastes change; a new family buys the house and wants to make its own mark; death duties mean houses are destroyed and sold off to golf courses.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Indeed, chance plays its part in the history of houses like Stourhead. A fire in 1902 destroyed much of the house (though most of the contents were saved), but not the library. And in this case, rather than being turned into a golf course, the house and garden were left to the National Trust :)

  3. Danny Eginton Says:

    Another stained glass work by my family. Thanks, Francis was very
    talented. He also invented photography in 1770, though certain events denied him due credit, hence stained glass after which he excelled at.

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