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.
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.
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.