Enrichment: an exciting trip to Stowe House
30th January 2020
Our students enjoyed the trip to Stowe House.
The visit inspired everyone and helped to reflect on the important paths of human civilisation:
Rise of Greece and the further influence on Saxon Freedoms
The Saxon Deities: Gods of our ancestors. These Saxon gods were associated with the ancient liberties of Britain and were part of the Germanic political heritage that the British shared with the Hanoverian dynasty, which ruled the country from 1714.
The Gothic temple: Liberty Revived. The inscription in French translates as: “I thank GOD that I am not a Roman”
The creator wanted to contrast Roman Tyranny with British liberty as it was championed by the Saxons such as King Alfred (who appears on the temple of British Worthies)
designed by William Kent in 1734-5, includes busts of 16 Britons believed to be deserving of commemoration:
- 8 men of ideas (on the left)
- Seven men (and one woman) of action on the right
In the oval niche in the centre is the figure of the messenger god, Mercury, who leads the virtuous to Elysium. The busts of King Alfred, the Black prince, John Hampden and William III represent key upholders of ancient British liberties.
Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh defeated the threat of Catholic tyranny posed by the Spanish Armada in 1588
William III: “Who by his Virtue and Constancy, having saved his Country from a foreign master, by a bold and generous Enterprize, preserved the Liberty and Religion of Great Britain.”
History and wisdom in every corner https://www.stowe.co.uk/house
“The choice of Hercules”
According to classical legend, the hero Hercules was faced with a moral choice. A seductive woman tries to persuade him to take the oath of vice, which is superficially easier and more enjoyable.
Meanwhile, another woman, dressed in sober white, points upwards to the more strenuous, but ultimately more satisfying, path of virtue.
On entering Bell Gate you are offered a similar choice. Turn left for the Garden of Vice. Turn right for the Garden of Virtue.
Which path will you take?
Do you know that European royalty were frequent visitors to Stowe,
– for example the restored French King Louis XVIII, in 1808, and the Tsars of Russia 3 times, Alexander I in 1810, Grand Duke Michael in 1814, and Nicholas in 1818.
In 1845, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, owner of Stowe, ran up debts of £1,464,959 (well over £100million+ in 21st C. £s). He was called the Greatest Debtor in the World – (he escaped to France) many items were sold, and the great Library dispersed – but the house & grounds survived!
We walked through the Elysian Fields: what were the Elysian Fields? ( in Paris the Champs-Élysées ) and saw the display of snowdrops.