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Belvedere of Lord Cobham's Monument

Stowe: The Grecian Valley

During June 2002 I was given permission by National Trust staff at Stowe to climb the narrow winding stairs of Lord Cobham's Monument and to take photographs from the belvedere. The image below is the view to the west toward the Temple of Concord and Victory, seen in the morning light.

View of the Temple of Concord and Victory

The view above is also the one from the perspective of Lord Cobham's statue. A number of things about the statue are significant. Not only does Lord Cobham face the Temple of Concord and Victory, but he also faces the same direction and receives the same afternoon light as the figures enshrined in the Temple of British Worthies. In fact, his statue can be glimpsed over the tops of the trees at one point along the path toward the Temple of Ancient Virtue in the Elysian Fields. From that same point on the path, one can also see the monument to Captain Grenville, the door into the Temple of Ancient Virtue framing the statue of the Greek general Epimanondas, and the figures of action in the Temple of British Worthies -- the monarchs, politicians, and soldiers.

Statue of Lord Cobham atop the Belvedere

Given the ways in which the placement of Lord Cobham's statue emphasizes his service to his country as a soldier and statesman, it should not be surprising that he is also depicted in Roman armor. Likewise, his bust and the nine others once enshrined in the Temple of Friendship were all depicted in Roman armor. Two of these busts can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

View of the Ceiling
View of the Stairhead

As the two photographs above illustrate, the interior of the belvedere provides only cramped quarters. There is room for four or five people at the most at the top of the stairs, and then only when the small trap door is lowered. Although now that the plantings throughout the gardens have matured over the course of two-and-a-half centuries and thus have obscured views (in summer) to most of the garden temples and monuments, one can still see some of the largest structures: the Temple of Concord and Victory to the west, the Conduit House and Wolfe's Obelisk to the north, the Bourbon Tower to the east, and the Gothic Temple, Temple of Friendship, and Corinthian Arch to the south.

Because the walls and window mullions obscure the details of these views in the panorama above, you may get a clearer view of the gardens, park, and surrounding countryside by following this link to another panorama from the belvedere, found in the panorama tour on this Web site.

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John D. Tatter, Birmingham-Southern College,