Online Exhibits@Yale

Stowe: The New Landscape Aesthetic

A View of the Rotunda in the Garden at Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Where Order in Variety we see,
And Where, tho’ all Things differ, all agree,—
Nature shall join you, Time shall make It grow,
A Work to wonder at —perhaps a STOWE.


Beginning with the more formal hexagonal layout by Charles Bridgeman, the Stowe estate continued to evolve into a freer design aligned with natural forms, literary references, political emblems, and enhanced views as a result of the work of William Kent. The grand Elysian Fields, bordered by the Temple of Ancient Virtue and the Shrine of British Worthies, and featuring the river “Styx,” remain Kent’s greatest contribution. Lancelot Brown arrived at Stowe in 1740 and worked directly under Kent, whose influence can be clearly seen in his design and approach.

Many newly created forms that allude to Roman and Greek mythology were designed and built by Kent and Sir John Vanbrugh. Stowe is the epitome of the ideal landscape and features expertly designed temples, grottoes, winding paths, obelisks, bodies of water, and tree clumps and belts.

Stowe: The New Landscape Aesthetic