History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
If the descendants of the Marquess of Buckingham put little money into the house, it is possibly because the money was gone. The 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, in particular, was a spendthrift, and the family fortunes underwent a sudden dip in the early years of Victoria's reign. In 1848 things had become so bad that a major auction was held of the furnishings of Stowe House. £75,000 was raised, a not inconsiderable sum. Unfortunately, the 2nd Duke had debts of over £1.5 million. The Temple-Grenvilles had no option but to close Stowe House. Eventually the house was put on the market. It was purchased in 1922 by a property developer named Harry Shaw. Shaw's intent was to preserve Stowe for the nation, but he was unable to raise the necessary funds to endow the house and was forced to sell it on. Finally, in 1922 the house was purchased to create a new public school. Stowe School opened its doors in 1923, and still occupies the premises today, though the house itself is owned by the Stowe House Preservation Trust. Former 'Old Stoics', as boys of Stowe are called, include such names as David Niven, Lord Sainsbury, and Richard Branson. In 1989 the landscape gardens were handed over to the National Trust, with a large endowment for their maintenance.
Visiting Stowe House
For many years the house was closed to the public, but now it may be visited both in and out of school term. Check the Stowe website for times. Admission is by guided tour only, and tours last about 1 1/2 hours. These tours are exceptionally good value, and our children were riveted by the skill of the tour guide in explaining what we were seeing and telling us about the history of the house and family that built it. Excellent value, and well worth the time. For a glimpse inside the splendid house, visit our photo gallery, which follows the course of the guided tour offered to visitors.
Stowe Landscape Gardens
About Stowe House
Address: Stowe House Preservation Trust, Stowe School, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, England, MK18 5EH
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: 3 m NW Buckingham, off the A422. Follow the brown signs for Stowe Landscape Gardens.
Website: Stowe House
Phone: +44 (0) 1280 818166
Fax: +44 (0) 1280 818186
Historic Houses Association
Photo Credit: David Ross/Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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