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Stowe Palladian Bridge

A late autumn walk at Stowe

Stowe was the first English landscape garden I visited many years ago, and it was love at first sight. I will never forget: it was a cold but sunny November day and we spent five hours exploring the garden, which really felt like a treasure hunt. Although I took photos of the garden in the gorgeous golden hour, I was using my phone at the time, unfortunately.

I’ve been waiting to return and capture Stowe in beautiful autumn colours and golden sunshine ever since. This year I returned and captured this glorious garden in autumn colours.

I didn’t want to photograph every single building or statue this time. In fact, I took a fairly relaxed approach and said I would be happy with three or four good images. I wanted us to enjoy the walk, the views and the beautiful autumn colours and sunshine. Photos were just the icing on the cake.

Stowe Palladian Bridge

What is an English landscape garden?

In 1700 most garden in England had a geometric style, influenced by Dutch, French and Italian gardens. Around 1720, a new style emerged and the garden now resembled landscape paintings from the 17th century. Hilly lawns, serpentine waters, group of trees here and there, follies and pavilions defined the landscape of Georgian gardens. Wealthy gentlemen wanted to recreate what they saw on the Grand Tour – a gap year when wealthy nobles had travelled to Europe to learn about and experience different cultures. Landscape gardens soon became status symbols and a place of entertaining and showing off.

Stowe

Stowe is spectacular for several reasons. It has forty-five objects on the grounds which have six main parts:

  • Octagon Lake
  • Eleven Acre Lake
  • Elysian Fields
  • Hawkwell Field
  • Grecian Valley
  • Lamport Garden

The biggest landscape garden designers like Charles Bridgeman, William Kent and Capability Brown worked on Stowe.

But not only the garden is grandeur at Stowe. The house is the finest example of neoclassical architecture in England and it has one of the biggest facades as well. It’s 140m wide, wider than Buckingham Palace (108m).
Stowe was also the first English garden for which a guidebook was printed.

Photography tips:

  • Stowe is a perfect place to capture in different seasons. However, Stowe looks best in the autumn in my opinion.
  • Always look back. Stowe was built in such a brilliant way that many buildings – for example, the Palladian Bridge is visible from many other spots.
  • Capture details like leaves or daffodils in spring.
  • Use Stowe to practise composition techniques like the rule of thirds and leading lines
  • Capture wildlife as well – birds, grazing sheep, waterfowl
  • If you’d like to take pictures of all the statues and buildings, make sure you spend a whole day at Stowe. You’ll need that because some objects are going to be in the shades in the morning and some in the afternoon.
  • Try to pick a day when lights are soft, or visit on an overcast summer day to avoid harsh sunlight.
  • You don’t really need a wide-angle lens at Stowe as it’s huge enough. However, if you prefer shooting with a wide-angle lens, that’s absolutely fine.

 

I’ve been to Stowe a handful of times now and I cannot get enough of it. It always offers a detail or a view I hadn’t noticed before. Also, it’s a great place to capture in different seasons. Last but not least, it’s great to exercise, enjoy nature and explore all the features in a beautiful Georgian garden. Hope you’ll love it too.

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Stowe Palladian Bridge

Stowe Palladian Bridge

The Queen's Temple Stowe

Sheep at Stowe

Gothic Temple Stowe

Seasons Fountain Stowe

Seasons Fountain Stowe

Stowe House

Grecian Valley Stowe

Grenville Column Stowe

Autumn leaves at Stowe

Temple of the Ancient Virtues Stowe

Temple of the British Worthies

Apollo and the Nine Muses Stowe

Eleven Acre Lake Stowe

Rotunda Stowe

Stowe House

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