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Wiltshire Map

Whilst the gardens at Stourhead are probably at their best when the rhododendrons are out, there is plenty to see at other times of the year.

The Stourhead estate was bought in 1717 by Henry Hoare I, son of wealthy banker Sir Richard Hoare, and it was his son Henry Hoare II* who designed the gardens.

They were laid out between 1741 and 1780 in a classical 18th-century design set around a large artificial lake created by a damming the exit to the valley.

Further improvements were made in 1785 by his grandson, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, the pioneering archaeologist.

Henry Hoare II is often referred to as Henry "the Magnificent" Hoare, presumably because he was known as Henry the Magnificent to his friends, whilst his enemies called him The Magnificent Hoare, bankers being held in only slightly higher regard back then than they are now.

Certainly the College of Heralds would have been aware of the pun when they chose a Spread Eagle as the Hoare heraldic badge.