Banked Corner
Banking on Bricks

Tall Tales at Stowe

R. Bradbury 090169

The Monday Photo

In 1957 this monument at Stowe received a lightning strike. It hit the statue of Lord Cobham that had stood on the top for over two hundred years.

There was nothing left of the statue but one wrist and a weathered piece of the head, and whatever was left of the feet. Three of the four lions near the base were also destroyed.

These two fragments, together with computer enhanced photos, were used to recreate the original statue.

In 2002 the new statue of Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham was craned into place. Like the original, at ten feet nine inches it is about twice life size and Lord Cobham is portrayed in Roman armour.

With the new statue on top of the column, a lightning conductor was installed, just in case the monument gets hit again. It’s 115 feet tall with the statue and near the top of the highest hill in the locality, so this is a wise precaution.

Sometimes the monument is said to be 104 feet tall, but this doesn’t include the statue; so both figures are correct.

The column is hollow with a spiral staircase to a roofed platform just under the statue; a belvedere, where visitors can admire the view. As usual with high viewpoints, you “can see five counties from here” on a fine day.

If the column doesn’t look quite vertical in the photo, that’s because it isn’t. It’s still stable, especially as the four buttresses were added in 1792.

The statue is in the grounds of Stowe House (National Trust) which you can reach via Stowe Avenue, but with my local knowledge I parked elsewhere and followed a public footpath into the grounds.

The monument was designed for the most part by Capability Brown, who also got married in Stowe’s church.

This photo was taken in 2009.

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