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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of THE GROTTO AND THE RIVER GOD'S CAVE
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Stourton with Gasper
National Grid Reference:
ST 77149 34085


3 STOURTON WITH GASPER STOURHEAD GARDENS ST 73 SE (west side) 6/151 The Grotto and The River God's Cave (formerly listed as The Grotto) 6.1.66 GV I 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


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Woodbridge, K , The Stourhead Landscape, (1982)
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 46 Wiltshire,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 05 Nov 2006
Reference: IOE01/15912/06
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr G.M. Cotton. Source Historic England Archive
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