Support Stowe House
Restoration of the House
We are currently fundraising for the restoration of the Western Suite - The State Drawing Room, The State Dining Room and The Small Dining Room.
We will start this three year project in May 2020 with the aim to replace the floors, restore the historic ceilings and return the room back to the original colour schemes.
For further details and to donate to this project please contact Nick Morris
What has been achieved so far...
North Hall Restoration - Completed Summer 2019
Stowe House Preservation Trust completed the the final stage of of the restoration of the North Hall in August 2019.
In 2014 we restored the magnificent 1730s William Kent ceiling and now after further research and analysis we have restored the floor and walls.
After consultation with expert advisors and from reviewing the findings from detailed analysis and images, as well as the rediscovery of the Laocoon statue that would have been originally in place here, we made the decision to restore the room to how it would have looked in the 1840s, when Queen Victoria visited the house.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Stowe House for three days in 1845, causing much excitement and festivities.However, it was this key event that was the final tipping point in the finacial donwfall of the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos - three years later, the family were forced to sell everything on the estate in a great auction to try and pay off their debts!
From paint analysis we can see that the room has been decorated up to 16 times and that the walls were altered on several occasions.
In the 1840s the walls were painted in a pale stone colour, with a lighter shade of stone applied to the woodwork. Given the way that paint wears over time, it is not possible to select the exact shade from a palette therefore an element of judgement is required to get as close to the colour as we can.
Trying to discover what the floor covering was in the 1840s has been a much harder process. The current floor was thought to be put in by the school in the 1960s and we have no records of what was removed.
Therefore, we have had to compare various contemporary images, documents and written accounts (many of which are in the Huntingdon Library in America) to work out what was in place.
A press image from Queen Victoria's shows a black and white checked floor but we know from contemporary sources written at the time that carpet was actually in place during her visit.
‘The floors are all completely cover’d with carpets, even the North Hall’
Elizabeth George journal entry—23rd January 1845
The 1848 auction sales catalogue also point to this: ‘The floor was also covered with a carpet of marble pattern, manufactured expressly for this Hall and the adjourning corridors.’
However photographs of the house from the 1870s onwards show a white stone floor and it is this that we will be returning it to, placing a hard wearing limestone following the current layout.
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 Manager, Charlie Clare