Today I’m going to show you some less usual views of Stowe’s monumental Corinthian Arch, a well known landmark in North Bucks.
It is built in the Corinthian order, most ornate of the Classic Revival styles. On Corinthian buildings capitals, the top-most part of columns, are decorated with carved acanthus leaves.
Designed in 1765 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford, the Corinthian Arch was finished in 1767; dendro-dating found a felling year of 1766 for some of the timbers inside it. The arch was built as part of an entrance scheme to show off Stowe House, the home of Richard, Earl Temple.
The position of the arch and avenue was all carefully worked out. Stowe Avenue, rising up from Buckingham, points right through the Corinthian Arch to the centre of the South front of Stowe House, three quarters of a mile beyond the arch.
The front and rear faces of the arch are quite similar, but on the rear in this shot we can see four engaged (partly set in the walls) great columns. Compared with the front view in the next photo, they protrude much further from the face of the building.
Visitors approaching along the avenue in their carriages could see the arch from about a mile away. But the house didn’t come into view until they got quite close to the arch. Once through it, the vista opened up.
They’d see the house in its Capability Brown designed setting, but not for long; Stowe Avenue ends here and the drive then took carriages to the left, along a tree lined avenue.
Visitors would see tantalising glimpses of the house as they went up the drive, then their carriage would swing round onto Oxford Avenue, a short while later they’d see the impressive North Front and main entrance.
Instead of the four engaged columns seen on the rear, on the front face there are four large pilasters (part columns). Only about a quarter of each square column protrudes from the front wall, but on the rear the engaged columns have about three-quarters of their diameter showing.
On each side of the arch are two quadrant walls, and at the end of each wall is an urn on top of a single column
You can get to see the Corinthian Arch close up as I did, though bear in mind that it is somebody’s home. To reach it I parked down the hill at Chackmore then walked a third of a mile or so up the avenue. But I think you can park near the National Trust cafe for free and it’s a shorter, more level walk.
There is a small house in each side of the arch. Except for one tiny, hard to spot window for each house on the inside of the arch, all their windows are in the end walls, out of sight of visitors. At least one house is presently occupied.
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