The Library at Stourhead was built in 1792 by Moulton & Atkinson for Sir Richard Colt Hoare, 2nd Bt. (1758-1838). Colt Hoare was a shy, scholarly man who inherited Stourhead with its classically-inspired landscape garden from his grandfather, Henry Hoare II.
Following the early death of his wife Colt Hoare spent six years on the Continent, mostly in Italy. He developed his interests in topography and history and patronised artists such as Louis Ducros, J.M.W. Turner, John Buckler and Francis Nicholson. Colt Hoare was a prolific if indifferent artist himself.
Back in England Colt Hoare turned to recording and publishing the antiquities of Wiltshire. He filled the Library at Stourhead with topographical books and records.
He also commissioned many items of furniture from Thomas Chippendale the Younger, which display the bold features of the Regency style and include various antiquarian references.
As a reflection of Colt Hoare’s character and interests, the Library is almost as much a ‘work of art’ as his grandfather’s landscape garden outside.