Restoration of the House
The stewardship of one of the country's grandest 18th-century houses is an immense task. Stowe House is on English Heritage's list of buildings at risk, and has been named by the World Monuments Fund as one of the 100 most endangered sites of world significance.
What has been achieved?
A new Welcome and Discovery Centre – opened in August 2015
A generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled Stowe House Preservation Trust to open a new, larger, multi-media visitor centre. The centre opens out in to the cavern-like wine cellar under the spectacular Marble Saloon and tells the beginnings and development of the family and estate in a new and creative way. This is part of a wider schools and community project which makes Stowe House the centre of creative learning for the area.
Restoration of Stowe House
Thanks to the generosity of many donors and grant-making trusts, most particularly the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, and in partnership with the World Monuments Fund, much has been achieved to preserve and restore the fabric of Stowe House to a magnificent standard. The impact of the northern aspect as you approach Stowe is breathtaking: the curving colonnades, formerly crumbling and discoloured, now gleam with fresh stone and a vibrant golden colour. Urgent roof repairs have saved priceless interiors including the famous Marble Saloon, itself now resplendent with conserved scagliola work and brilliant decorative plaster. A visitor centre welcomes the public and demonstrates the evolution of this vast, complex building. A lift allows disabled visitors to see the piano nobile and the principal State Rooms.
We are delighted to report that considerable progress has been made in recent years to complete several phases of the major restoration of Stowe House. A two-year project, completed in July 2010, involved the restoration of the roofs, elevations, facades, balustrade and garden on the Eastern Pavilion and State Library side of the House. As part of this phase, the Library and Ante Library, immediately to the east of the central pavilion, have undergone a magnificent restoration. A pitched roof (replaced some years ago with a flat felt roof) has been restored and below it work has been completed on the valuable and ornate plaster ceiling. This has been re-gilded to match its remarkable condition in the later 18th century.
Subsequently, July 2010 to July 2011 saw the restoration of the Western Pavilion and State Dining Room exteriors. This project has signifantly enhanced the appearance of the South Front and has secured in particular the roofs of the House for the next 75 years and beyond. Work on the elaborate interior of the Music Room was completed at the end of the summer in 2012. In the summer of 2013, the magnificent Medici Lions were returned to the South Front, complementing work to the stone balustrade and the installation of replicas of the 30 spun copper urns. The Egyptian Hall has also been restored, complete with wall paintings, sphynxes and sarcophagus. A stunning restoration of the Blue Room was completed in 2014 and work on the remaining major State Rooms will follow.
The World Monuments Fund have been invaluable partners in our work and over the last 2-3 years we have been working on a £10 million matched-funding challenge, made possible through the generosity of an anonymous benefactor. Thereafter, we will need to raise a final £3 million to enable us to complete the restoration of the remaining State Rooms – and the mission to restore Stowe House and secure its future.
Making a Gift to support this project
Raising the funds necessary for these phases of the restoration will be a significant challenge, but it is clearly one that we must rise to. With the generosity of all quarters of the Stowe community, and of those with a passion for the restoration and preservation of historic buildings, we are confident of ultimate success. Donations of all sizes will be important: as our achievements to date have shown, it is the accumulation of large and more modest gifts that will be crucial to reaching the fundraising targets.
If you would like to discuss how you might help with the restoration project, or you would wish to obtain further information, please get in touch with the Development Director, Ben Mercer.