Work has started to restore the Pantheon, perhaps the most important feature in the world-famous landscape gardens at the National Trust’s Stourhead in Wiltshire
Scaffolding now clads the building and the restoration team are making a start to repair the building’s roof – putting right damage caused by water leaks – and to restore some of the stonework.The repairs are part of a £640,000 project to restore many of the features and structures in the grounds of Stourhead, rebuilding the designed Stourhead landscape.
Alan Power, Stourhead’s Head Gardener said: “The landscape gardens are probably the most photographed in the National Trust and the pantheon is the centre piece of the most commonly taken view, that spectacular view across the lake which greets you as you walk into the garden.
“Having scaffolding will change the view for a few months but this will be the first really thorough restoration of the Pantheon since Sir Henry Hoare in the 1890s. Once complete it will look fantastic and be the centre piece of the garden again for many years to come.”
The building is in urgent need of repairs and work has been able to start thanks to a grant of £260,200 from the SITA Trust which will also pay for work on the lower pump house which is currently inaccessible. The SITA Trust supports community and environmental improvement projects through the Landfill Communities Fund.
Most of the buildings in the garden need some maintenance work with several in need of extensive repairs. In addition to the Pantheon, the Trust is raising money to repair King Alfred’s Tower which needs repairs to the roof and to cracked stonework around the top of the tower.
There are a total of 14 structures and buildings around Stourhead which need repair, including the Pantheon, King Alfred’s Tower, the Temple of Apollo and the Grotto.
“The staff and volunteers at Stourhead have taken on a major fundraising appeal to raise the rest of the £640,000 we need,” said Esther Stewart, fund raising manager for the National Trust.
“This money will ensure that the work to safeguard these temples and monuments can take place. We are asking local communities who love Stourhead to show their support for the campaign by getting involved in fundraising. We are obviously asking for financial support but we are also looking for sponsorship and attendance of some future events.”
The buildings were part of the design of the garden and were carefully placed through the landscape around the lake linked by a path which follows a walk based on the journey of Rome’s legendary founder Aeneas.
Stourhead was last restored over 100 years ago by Sir Henry Hoare who moved to the estate and set about reclaiming the garden which had become overgrown. As well as returning the landscape garden to its original grandeur, he repaired many of the buildings but the intervening years have taken their toll and urgent repairs are needed to ensure their survival.
Alan Power added: “We are so fortunate that Stourhead has survived for 250 years, but time has taken its toll and, if we are to ensure its survival for future generations, we need to carry out some major repairs.”
“The most urgent are the Pantheon and King Alfred’s Tower, but we also need to do work in the Grotto to repair the cobbled floor, the Lower Pump House and waterwheel need repairs and we have a lot of other work on most of the other buildings to do as well.