Buckinghamshire is a county that is filled with historic houses and one of the most fascinating is Stowe. It is a grade I listed country mansion and it is now a school – Stowe School. This is an independent school but the property is owned and managed by the Stowe House Preservation Trust. Over the years they have spent millions on the restoration and preservation of the property and open it regularly to the public.
One of the most interesting features of the house are the gardens. These are typically English and are now run by the National Trust. Visitors can go to the parkland around the house at any time of the year and those who are members of the National Trust do not have pay to go into the gardens. However, trust members are not automatically given free access to Stowe House as the building is managed by another trust and membership does not cover access to the house.
The original owner of Stowe House was Sir George Gifford MP. He was born at the end of the 15th century and upon his death it passed into the hands of Thomas Gifford, his son. Peter Temple then leased the estate from Thomas Gifford in 1571, but the family later bought it from the Giffords. Sir Richard Temple replaced the house in the latter part of the 17th century and it is this building that can be seen today. Like many stately homes, it was actually built originally to replace a much older house and the medieval building was located close to the parish church, but just a hundred yards or so from the current house.
The façade of Stowe House measures almost 280 metres in length and it can be seen from miles around. Over the years many famous names have stayed at the house. Alexander I of Russia paid a visit in the early part of the 19th century, the Duke of Clarence was a regular visitor and Queen Adelaide stayed here after the death of her husband, King William IV. Queen Victoria was perhaps one of the most famous visitors but non-royal visitors include Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, William Congreve and Alexander Pope.
As with many other stately homes in the area the house has featured on TV and attracts thousands of visitors each year.