Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Family estate turned high-end school

It looks like we are scheduled to see only one school library during this program, and my, what an example we had the privilege of seeing! Stowe School is located a quick trip outside of London (I mean after the hour spent waiting in traffic, of course) on a beautiful estate.

Stowe House view from the gardens
This 400-room mansion has a long and troubled history. In 1845 Queen Victoria was invited to stay at the house, and the visit bankrupted the Temple-Grenville family. All of the manuscripts and catalogues were sold in 1849 in an attempt to regain some of the lost money. In 1921 the last heir was killed in WWI, and with no money the house was on the verge of being torn down. Harry Shaw purchased the property with the intent of donating it to the National Trust, but was unable to raise the endowment necessary. The estate was then sold again, and Stowe School started in 1923.

All of the old books in the library have been donated since 1923, as none of the original items remain. The students cannot use those books, located on the balcony, and they really only exist for appearance. The library is quite stunning, with its dark wood bookcases set into the walls and gilded ceiling.
Stowe House Library

In 1997, the Stowe House Preservation Trust was established to maintain the grounds. A restoration plan was established to return the house to its richness and glory. The only room unable to be in the plans is the garter room, which serves the food. Originally, it was the largest of the state bedrooms. The garter is given by a monarch and is a great honor. To showcase this honor to all guests the garter was placed on the ceiling, where it still resides today.

Garter on the ceiling
After our tour of the house, we roamed through the expansive gardens. Numerous monuments and temples can be found throughout. The Gothic temple can be rented out--and staying there in the midst of the trees, fields, and sheep is now on my bucket list!

Gothic Temple in the gardens
Cost of attendance at this 1,000-acre estate school is not the most expensive in the UK, but if I had the £33,000 to spend per year, I would be doing quite well! 

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