Restoration Intern Lightning Strikes

19 August 2015

In 1597 Cobham’s Monument was hit by a lightning bolt that shattered its viewing gallery and blew the Viscount’s head off! Other jagged limbs were propelled some distance away. Cobham, or Sir Richard Temple, was a soldier, politician and one-time owner of Stowe. This monument was built in 1747-9 by ‘Capability’ Brown in commemoration of his life. The octagonal shaft is topped by a small belvedere or viewing platform that is reached by a spiral staircase. Although Cobham was suspicious of the tyranny of Rome as an imperial power, as a soldier he recognised its military prowess and the over-sized statue of himself is adorned in Roman armour.

In 1999 the National Trust fully reconstructed the gallery and restored the statue to its original pride of place after the school had erected a fibreglass urn in its stead.

Cobham once again resides at the highest man-made point of the estate that he spent his life designing. The tablets around the base are inscribed with quotations from Alexander Pope and a tribute in Latin that reads ‘a truly great man’.