Restoration Intern You Have A Friend In The National Trust

4 August 2015

The Temple of Friendship stands in ruins since was destroyed in a fire of 1840.
It was originally designed by Gibbs for Viscount Cobham and was dedicated to his political friendship with Frederick, Prince of Wales. It was built to accommodate Cobham’s Cubs, a group of Whigs, which included: John Vanbrugh, the famous architect who designed Blenheim Palace; William Pitt the elder and George Grenville, future prime ministers; and Joseph Addison and Robert Steele, esteemed writers from London. It was completed in 1739, after Cobham and his cousins broke with the Prime Minister, Walpole, in a political disagreement dating back to 1733. The temple looked out to Queen’s Temple to the north, where Cobham and his cubs could watch over their wives; and also to the Temple of Venus, where they could keep an eye on their various mistresses. This meant that the temple, whilst encouraging male friendship, discouraged similarly loyal friendships with women.
In 1950, Sir Laurence Whistler, a former Stowe pupil, suggested that the temple could, considering its dedication, become a hostelry for Old Stoics (former pupils) visiting the school. Later in the 1960s school concerts were held in the Queen’s Temple to raise funds for its restoration, but they only ever made enough money to consolidate it. With the help of generous donations, the National Trust plans to conserve this temple as a ruin, making it safe to enter and explore. The Temple of Friendship has finally gathered a social network large enough to pay for its life- line- it’s got a friend in NT!