Far From the Sea


Looking up at Stowe's Corinthian ArchVisitors to Stowe could look up to see the elegant inner face of the arch as they entered the grounds.

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.

Rear of Stowe's Corinthian ArchThe 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.

Corinthian Arch and flanking columns Stowe  BuckssInstead 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.

Windows and door in the Corinthian Arch  StoweThere 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.

Stowe House  through the Corinthian archThe visitor’s first view of the great house.

Detail of columns  StoweA close look at the finely carved acanthus leaves on the front face.

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What an impressive structure Roger, quite beautiful. Regarding the timbers (over 250 years old) – I assume this relates to the interior rooms? And was this housing a form of tied-cottages, there for the workers on the estate? Finally, the internal windows are so hidden they are not evident in your photos, but I imagine they probably appear along the joint line where the arch meets the upright?

Hi John

I also assumed the timbers refer to the floors and roof, and also thought that the houses were for estate workers. By the way, I can't see that the arch was a gatehouse, as there are no windows in it to observe travellers approaching.

You can see two windows and a door for one of the houses in the fourth photo (and not too clearly in the second and third photos). Also in the second and third photos, you can just see inside the archway the other small and almost square window, one for each house; they are a little below the top of the fence and both are towards the front face of the building.


Thanks for that Roger - yes, I have just spotted the inner windows - it sure would have made for some dark rooms!


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