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The Grotto and the River God's Cave, Stourton with Gasper

Description: The Grotto and the River God's Cave

Grade: I
Date Listed: 6 January 1966
English Heritage Building ID: 321257

OS Grid Reference: ST7714934085
OS Grid Coordinates: 377149, 134085
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1056, -2.3278

Location: Stourton, Wiltshire BA12 6QB

Locality: Stourton with Gasper
County: Wiltshire
Country: England
Postcode: BA12 6QB

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Listing Text

ST 73 SE
(west side)
6/151 The Grotto and The River God's Cave
(formerly listed as The Grotto)
Grotto and spring head. Circa 1748, by William Privet of Chilmark
for Henry Hoare, entrance added 1776. Tufa limestone on brick,
stone domed roof. Circular domed chamber with two symmetrical arms
and rockwork passage to the north and The River God's-Cave to the
south, overlooking lake. Opposing entrances of passages to main
chamber have open pediments over semi-circular openings with
keystones and imposts, facades in rustic classical style, Latin
inscription over north entrance, concealed by 1776 passageway.
Opposing entrances within main chamber are matched by arched
openings on side overlooking lake and west side with cold bath and
spring cascading below painted lead statue of Ariadne, the words
'Nymph of the Grot these sacred springs I keep ...' are incised
onto edge of pool, 1967 replica of original, a translation by Pope.
Between the main arches are niches, all connected by impost bands
and with exaggerated keystones. Floored with concentric pattern of
cobbles, domed roof with tufa ribs, top-lit by circular window with
disc ornament. Facing the south entrance to the grotto is The
River God's Cave, tufa with arched opening to vaulted chamber with
painted lead statue of the River God by John Cheere, c1751, the
source of the River Stour is engineered to flow from an urn. Both
the River God and Ariadne are illuminated by grilled lights in the
roofs. This is an important grotto in English landscape gardening,
with classical allusions; really a nymphaeum. Henry Hoare was
probably attempting to recreate the scene from Virgil's Aeneid in
which Aeneas meets the nymphs and the River God (Father Tiber) and
is shown the way to the Pantheon and the altar of Hercules.
(K. Woodbridge, The Stourhead Landscape, 1982; Accounts in WRO)

Listing NGR: ST7714734083

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.