Restoration Intern Another Hidden Gem

26 July 2015

The evening was more than cool, and the destined spot [the Grotto] anything but dry. There were not half lamps enough and no music but an ancient militia-man, who played cruelly on a squeking tabor and pipe… I could not help laughing as I surveyed our troop, which instead of tripping lightly to such an Arcadian entertainment, were hobbling down by the balustrades, wrapped up in cloaks and greatcoats, for fear of catching cold.

- Horace Walpole, 1770

Tucked beneath the soft canopies of the Path of Virtue and nestled in the grassy Elysian Fields, you will find William Kent’s Grotto. Inside, discover the Crouching Venus, as she attempts to cover herself after being ‘surprised getting out of the bath’… A story dating from the fourth century BC if ever I heard one! After Praxiteles had created the first, Crouching Venus became a popular model for classical innovation. This trend reflected both the rising social status of women and changes in male attitudes towards women: previously only male statues had been depicted naked, and Venus draws attention to, rather than conceals, herself in many of these representations.

In 1922 this statue was sadly sold in the grand sale of items from both House and garden. But in 2009 internal and external stonework was restored and a replica of Stowe’s original Crouching Venus reinstated inside. A hidden gem, long missing (and still acting all coy!) has been returned for you to admire – if you can find her!