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Combine serene and extreme in one day out: Stowe Landscape Gardens and the Silverstone Race Track

A National Trust secret garden right next door to the UK’s top racetrack.

The Corinithian Arch on the main approach to Stowe

Next to the high-octane revving and scintillating Formula One action of the Silverstone racetrack lies a much quieter and reflective time than the famous home of British motor sport’s range of driving day experiences can offer.

While its political significance is all but lost in the 21st Century, the Georgian showcase for nature that is Stowe Landscape Gardens, three miles north of Buckingham, is in fact one of the UK’s hidden national treasures, and has seen the great and good and the great unwashed pass through its gates for over 200 years.

Britain’s greatest and most controversial landscape gardeners have all left their mark upon its vast acreage, and in its 18th Century heyday it was a sight to rival the finest gardens in continental Europe. It was considered so grand that tributes to its most famous features are to be found as far afield as Russia and the USA.

The Temple of Venus, one of Stowe's major restoration projects

Famous British architects Sir John Vanbrugh and James Gibbs contributed buildings and designs to the walkways, while Stowe was famous gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s first commission. Now owned by the National Trust, the present-day experience of plotting an itinerary through Stowe’s deerparks, natural and architectural wonders is a tranquil experience only interrupted by the sound of engines purring from the racetrack’s driving days.

The gardens were designed so you can choose to follow one of two paths (one of which leads to a third) through its grounds. The Path of Vice features buildings that reference lust or illicit love: The Temple Of Venus, The Rotondo, the Temple of Bachus – quaint now, perhaps, but in their day, these monuments were hot stuff, all racier than a Lamborghini doing a circuit of the racetrack down the road. They had further significance in their day, with political allegory high on Stowe’s owners’ agenda.

The Temple of Ancient Virtue honoured four great Greek men: Socrates, Homer, Lycurgus and Epaminondas. They represented virtues apparently lacking in Lord Cobham's contemporaries

The Path Of Virtue, on the other hand, with its Temple Of Ancient Virtue, The Elysian Fields, Doric Arch and so on, is a feast for the eyes but still has political depth. The family that commissioned the gardens were lovers of the Saxon and Greek ideas of freedom, and were disdainful of the oppressiveness of progressive Roman and modern societal values.

The Path Of Liberty, the final walk in Stowe’s gardens, takes the origins of freedom as its theme, with its Grecian valleys, Saxon deities and Gothic temples.

This is a sponsored guest post from Silverstone, who offer track days and driving experiences just a hop skip and jump away from Stowe

Photos by Karen Roe

3 Responses to Combine serene and extreme in one day out: Stowe Landscape Gardens and the Silverstone Race Track

  1. The Blighty Traveller Reply

    May 25, 2011 at 7:05 am

    What a beautiful looking place and what a contrast between spending your morning out racing around the track to then spending your afternoon in the sunshine enjoying a picnic in the gardens.

    Me thinks a day out is in order 🙂

    • ilaha Reply

      May 26, 2011 at 8:22 am

      hi .are you turist??

  2. Gedi Reply

    January 19, 2016 at 7:58 am

    I would like to introduce you budget tours in London, if you plan to visit london in future do visit:

    heathrow airport minicabs

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