ILN,1845.Jan.25,p.52 - Qu.Victoria leaving Stowe

The above engraving, taken from Illustrated London News, depicts the end of the royal visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Stowe in 1845. The image illustrates the North Hall much unchanged to how it looks today. HOWEVER today we are missing the magnificent lantern that once hung proudly within the Hall. The lantern was sold during the 1848 auction to a Mr Edward Churchill….

Copy of ILN,1845.Jan.25,p.52 - Qu.Victoria leaving Stowe

Rumour (as well as printed word) had it that the lantern had made its way down to a hotel in Tunbridge Wells in the late 19th century however through various correspondences this rumour was quashed. Nevertheless rumours must start somewhere!

The North Hall is due for restoration next year and as such we at Stowe House are keen to track down the original lantern, if possible, and reinstate it! So with that in mind we ask you, the public, to help us find our missing lantern. 

Happy Hunting!

Illustrated London News Article 1845

Below is the original description of the lantern from the 1848 sales catalogue:

A magnificent octangular hall lanthorn, the frame of or-molu, surmounted by a ducal coronet, and glazed with coats of arms of stained glass. […] This remarkable lanthorn was one of the principal objects on entering the mansion from the north portico. It was designed expressly for the present Duke of Buckingham, by Collins, of the Strand, by whom the brass-work and glass-painting were executed. The coats of arms, alluded to in the above description, include the armorial bearings of the various branches of the family of Buckingham, showing their regal descent. The lanthorn is in form an octagon, of which each side is divided into three compartments: the centre compartments contain the shields and supporters of the Grenville, Temple, Nugent, and Chandos families; as well as those of Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk, and King Henry VII., from who the present Duke of Buckingham & Chandos is lineally descended. The upper and lower compartments are occupied by shields of quarterings, commemorating the most important matches with the heiresses of many distinguished families, through whose alliance so large an accumulation of heraldic honours have descended to the Grenville family; and also by some of the ancient badges and devices which were at various periods adopted by the houses of Plantagenet and Tudor. The ground, or field of the paintings, is dispersed, like that of the great seal of King Henry VII., the meshes being lozenge-formed, with a fleur-de-lis on each knot, and a rose on each lozenge; the latter being a device of the House of Lancaster; and the former to show his descent from the royal blood of France, through his grandmother, Queen Katherine of Valois, the widow of King Henry V. The arrangement of this extraordinary heraldic display was made by William James Smith, Esq., a gentleman, who for many years past has filled the important office of librarian at Stowe. When the lot was put up, a general impression prevailed that it would be bought for the family, the illustrated heraldic history, though of great value to them, possessing little interest for others. This supposition was strengthened when Mr. Richards, a gentleman, who resides in one of the Boycot Pavilions, within the Stowe Park (and is therefore a tenant of the family), was observed to be the principal bidder. After exciting a very languid competition, the lot was knocked down to this gentleman for thirty-two guineas, its original cost to the Duke of Buckingham having been £400. Subsequently to the sale, the lanthorn proved to have been purchased for Mr. Edward Churchill, of the Calverley Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, the entrance-hall of which magnificent establishment it now decorates. Mr. Richards and Mr. Churchill are on terms of close friendship; and while the mansion was on view, the latter jocularly remarked – pointing to the lanthorn – “if that goes for £20 or £30, you may buy it for me.” Hence its purchase as described.”





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New/Old addition to the Music Room

Music Room - ceiling - c 1990s - S.M. Robertson - CJ99E

After the marvellous conservation of the stunning Music Room last year, the one aspect that made the room incomplete was the missing central oil painting, The Dance of the Hours, by Valdre. This had been sold in 1922 but came up for sale again in the 1970s. Stowe School was unable to raise the £9000 the bids went up to, and just before it disappeared into a private residence, was copied by an Old Stoic, Benjamin Gibbon, on board. Part of the conservation of the room was to tone down the bright colours Gibbon had used and also to paint out the quartering that had occurred when the final painting was brought in through the doors and found to be too big! And the original disappeared……..

However, this February, a member of Christie’s curatorial team had visited a property with a view to valuating some items and he recognised the missing painting. After negotiating with the current owner, the School’s headmaster was able to buy the painting back for Stowe! It is currently being conserved and a way of bringing it back into the room are being discussed! We can now say that the Music Room is almost complete – if you know where an organ in the shape of Apollo is, then do let us know!

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Blue Room Fireplace


Our key current lost treasure that we are searching for at the moment is the fireplace surround for the Blue Drawing Room. We have almost finished replacing a 1980s laminate floor with a more traditional oak floor in the room and then early next year, we hope to undertake the restoration of the room. Although the highly decorated gilded ceiling dates from 1740s, we have no images of the room until the turn of the 19th century, by which time, the room had gone through several changes in name and function. We are probably going to restore it to the 1860s, post-sale, décor, for which we have plenty of photographic evidence. However, along with the ceiling, the fireplace surround has remained a constant in the room until it was sold in 1922.

The 1922 sales catalogue description describes as follows: ‘An antique white statuary marble mantelpiece with acanthus leaf and mouldings, plain centre panel and sunk jambs enriched with chased and ormolu scroll ornaments; size 6’ wide; fitted with an old chased ormolu and steel stove.

If you have any idea of it’s whereabouts either to purchase or to copy then please let us know. It would be great to see it back home!

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Silver Plates Enquiry

We’ve recently had an enquiry through the LTOS website from a gentleman from Melrose, Scotland, regarding a pair of silver plates from a larger set that he had in his possession. They have the heraldic shield that was linked to the Brydges family, who married into the Temple-Grenville family via Anna Eliza in 1796. Their family estate name of Chandos was added to the title when her husband became 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos in 1822.

The enquiry was to ascertain if they had been part of either sales of 1848 or 1922. The 1848 catalogue is on-line:

This catalogue has the dimensions of any silver plates so he is currently looking himself.

If you have anything that you think is linked to Stowe, and can be found in the 1848 catalogue, then let us know the items and the area of the country where you live then we can just plot the items. If you can’t find it in that catalogue, then ask us to look through the 1922 catalogue but do give us as much information as possible, including dimensions.

Happy hunting!

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South Front Treasures


Our very exciting news is that the original 1790s lead Medici lions that were sold in 1922 (to John Magee who gifted them to Blackpool Corporation (now Council) have retuned back to the South Front steps.

As part of the restoration of the South Front by Stowe House Preservation Trust, copies of the original copper urns (sold at the same time) now adorn the 30 piers of the balustrade surrounding the parterres in front of the main mansion.

Since 1922, the lead lions have resided in a public park, Stanley Park, in Blackpool, but it was felt that they were becoming rather vulnerable. Blackpool Council have very kindly lent the lions to Stowe House Preservation Trust on a long term lease and we have had copies made to return to Stanley Park. They look as though they’ve never been away!

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Antiques Roadshow

A fun and successful Antiques Roadshow last summer showcased beautiful Stowe to the rest of Britain, displaying the treasures we already have. Excitingly two items did come back to Stowe that day, that had found their way back before filming – a silver break basket and two coaching tables. These three items were generously donated to Stowe House Preservation Trust by two donors and are now on display in our Visitor Centre.

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Sir Peter Temple Portait



 Earlier this month we were contacted by John Matthews, a historian with a keen interest in the Temple family of Stowe. He was conducting research into the portraits of the family with a particular focus on the artist Cornelius Johnson. He was interested in one of our portraits, that of Sir Peter Temple (seen above). Mr Matthews was perplexed as to why, at some point over the years; the painting had been described as “oil on canvas”. This was highly unusual for the artist, Cornelius Johnson, who preferred to work on wood panel. The painting had been assumed to have been painted during 1622 yet Johnson was never documented to have worked on canvas as early as that. This obviously highlighted a few questions for Mr Matthews, the main one in particular; could it be a copy? Since acquring the painting we had always assumed it to be an original work, however Mr Matthews new research put this assumption into question….

LUCKILY an inscription on the back of the frame shed some light on the matter, “Messrs Leedham/Liner.” The Leedham family were specialists in restoring and relining pictures during the 19th century and they were particularly skilled in relining panel to canvas. Mr. Matthews was more than happy with this explanation stating; “An annoying loose end has been satisfactorily tied up”.

A huge thank you goes out to Mr. Matthews for taking his time to research and provide us with invaluable information which will go a long way in helping us to establish a comprehensive history of the house and family.

If you would like to read the full blog post John Matthews wrote on Sir Peter Temple you can find it here-

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