Temple of Friendship, Stowe Landscape Gardens

Record ID:  150300 / MNA129275
Record type:  Monument
Protected Status: Registered Park or Garden, Listed Building: Grade I
NT Property:  Stowe; London and South East
Civil Parish:  Stowe; Aylesbury Vale; Buckinghamshire
Grid Reference:  SP 6801 3699
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Summary

A large ruined building with a Tuscan portico on the north side, the facade rises above the portico and has a central inscribed tablet. The temple was designed by Gibbs and built in 1739 as a meeting place for Lord Cobham and his friends. The façade was raised in about 1760 either to match in scale the remodelled Queen's Temple which it faces or to keep in scale with the trees on either side. The inside and the roof of the building were destroyed by fire and it is now maintained as a ruin.

Images (1)

Temple of Friendship, Stowe © National Trust Images
Temple of Friendship, Stowe © National Trust Images

Documents (0)

Monument Types

  • GARDEN TEMPLE (Mid 18th C to Late 19th C - 1739 AD to 1900 AD)

Description

(1) The Temple of Friendship is a large ruined building with a Tuscan portico on the north side, the facade rises above the portico and has a central inscribed tablet. Vaults underneath are now full of rubble.

The temple was designed by Gibbs and built in 1739 as a meeting place for Lord Cobham and his friends. Originally it contained busts of Cobhams political allies and allegorical paintings. The facade was raised in about 1760 either to match in scale the remodelled Queen's Temple which it faces or to keep in scale with the trees on either side.

The inside and the roof of the building were destroyed by fire and it is now maintained as a ruin.

(8) Ruined Tuscan temple. 1739 by Gibbs. Large building with portico, semi- circular arched doorway flanked by blank arches, and two open arches each side of portico. Facade rises above portico with central inscribed tablet flanked by roundels, moulded cornice with four stone balls.

(9) Despite its apparently universal dedication ‘Amicitiae S.—’ (‘Sacred to Friendship’), the temple was built for a small and particular group of friends. In 1737 Lord Cobham invited Frederick, Prince of Wales to stay at Stowe. For those Whigs who went into Opposition after the Excise Crisis of 1733 (known as the ‘Boy Patriots’ or ‘Cobham’s Cubs’ and consisting mainly of Lord Cobham’s nephews), Prince Frederick came to embody the ideal of the ‘Patriot King’ in contrast to the rule of his father George II, and it was partly in commemoration of the visit that the Temple of Friendship was begun in 1739, the date inscribed on the outside with the dedication.

It was designed by James Gibbs as the first commission of his second period of employment at Stowe. Standing on the bastion created by Bridgeman at the eastern end of his southern terrace, it balanced Kent’s Temple of Venus at the opposite end. The open arches to either side of the central block recall earlier belvederes at Stowe: Gibbs’s Boycott Pavilions (see p. 11) and Temple of Fame (later the Fane of Pastoral Poetry, p. 50), and the pavilions at either side of the Temple of Venus. Sarah Bridgeman’s plan of 1739 shows how the avenues just south of the ha-ha admitted a view from the western belvedere of the Temple of Friendship to the Temple of Venus, and from the eastern side there was a view to Stowe Castle.

A more significant relationship was established in 1742–8 with the building of the Lady’s Temple (later the Queen’s Temple, p. 42), which Gibbs also designed and which faces the Temple of Friendship across the Hawkwell Field. This was to be the sanctuary of Lady Cobham and her friends, while her husband’s political cronies resorted to the Temple of Friendship.

This temple is therefore unusual at Stowe in having had a regular use. It is built over a basement which had a kitchen as well, no doubt, as ample cellarage. The central block originally had a low, pyramidal roof topped by an open lantern (see Bickham’s engraving, illustrated below) and apparently covered with the same black glazed pantiles later used on the Temple of Concord and Victory. Within, it was decorated with murals by Francesco Sleter symbolic of Friendship, Justice and Liberty, as Seeley described in 1747: "Upon the Ceiling is seated Britannia: Labels, inscribed with the Reigns of Edward 3. and Q. Elizabeth are held on one Side of her; and on the other is offered the Reign of — [ie George II] which she covers with her Mantle, and seems unwilling to accept."

Around the walls were placed on tapering pedestals ten marble busts of members of Lord Cobham’s political circle: Frederick, Prince of Wales, the Earls of Chesterfield, Bathurst, Marchmont, Chatham, Westmorland and Gower, Lord Lyttelton, together with Lord Cobham and Earl Temple themselves. The notches cut into the stone skirting to receive the bases of their black marble pedestals can still be seen. Scheemakers was paid in 1741 for three of the busts (Lord Cobham, Lord Chesterfield and the Prince of Wales) and Thomas Adye supplied that of Lord Westmorland. The authorship of the others is uncertain (all ten were sold in the 1848 sale).

Between 1772 and 1774 Earl Temple radically remodelled the roof of the temple. The lantern was removed and a high stone ‘attic’ added to the front; no doubt after 30 years’ growth the surrounding trees had begun to obscure the building in the long view from the Queen’s Temple.

It was severely damaged by fire in about 1840, but retained as a ruin because of its prominence in several important views. Drawings by Edward Blore dated 1844 in the Stowe collection in the Huntington Library show proposals for rebuilding the temple as a Pantheon, but these were not pursued.

References

  • SNA60461 - Correspondence: Edward Morton. October 2006. Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire, Temple of Friendship. 19/10/2006.
  • SNA61324 - Slide: A. Wainwright. July 1993. Stowe, using laser EDM at Temple of Friendship. TSLG5098.
  • SNA61325 - Slide: A. Wainwright. July 1993. Stowe, using laser EDM at Temple of Friendship. TSLG5099.
  • SNA61817 - Slide: G. Marshall. 24/10/2006. Stowe, Temple of Friendship, collapsed vault. 1M/20cm. TSLG5266. N.
  • SNA61818 - Slide: G. Marshall. 24/10/2006. Stowe, Temple of Friendship, collapsed vault. 1M/20cm. TSLG5267. N.
  • SNA61819 - Slide: G. Marshall. 24/10/2006. Stowe, Temple of Friendship, collapsed vault. 1M/20cm. TSLG5268. N.
  • SNA61820 - Slide: G. Marshall. 24/10/2006. Stowe, Temple of Friendship, collapsed vault. 1M/20cm. TSLG5269. NE.
  • SNA61821 - Slide: G. Marshall. 24/10/2006. Stowe, Temple of Friendship, collapsed vault. 1M/20cm. TSLG5270. SE.
  • SNA61822 - Slide: G. Marshall. 24/10/2006. Stowe, Temple of Friendship, looking into vault under west room. 1M/20cm. TSLG5271. N.
  • SNA64138 - Report: A Wainwright. 1989. National Trust Archaeological survey, Stowe, Thames and Chilterns region.
  • SZM13929 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/10/1992. Temple of Friendship - south east wall.. 1M/50CMS. TSLG1150.
  • SZM14018 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/06/1991. Temple of Friendship - Render decay revealing original brick relieving arch.. TSLG1146.
  • SZM19095 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/06/1991. Temple of Friendship - Lining and white wash interior of portico.. TSLG1147.
  • SZM20643 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/06/1991. Temple of Friendship - recent brick releiving arch , exterior of portico.. TSLG1145.
  • SZM21412 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/01/1991. Temple of Friendship - Digging out chamber.. TSLG1149.
  • SZM30947 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/06/1991. Temple of Friendship - brick construction for moulding.. TSLG1143.
  • SZM30948 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/10/1992. Temple of Friendship - east vault.. 1M/50CMS. TSLG1153.
  • SZM35399 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/06/1991. Temple of Friendship - plaster plinth, interior of portico.. TSLG1141.
  • SZM35400 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/10/1992. Temple of Friendship - north east wall.. 1M/50CMS. TSLG1151.
  • SZM39948 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/06/1991. Temple of Friendship - interior of portico.. TSLG1142.
  • SZM39949 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/10/1992. Temple of Friendship - vault.. 1M/50CMS. TSLG1152.
  • SZM40457 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/06/1991. Temple of Friendship - recent brick releiving arch , exterior of portico.. TSLG1144.
  • SZM40458 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/10/1992. Temple of Friendship - south east wall. 1M/50CMS. TSLG1154.
  • SZM41846 - Slide: Angus Wainwright. 01/01/1991. Temple of Friendship - Digging out chamber.. TSLG1148.
  • SZM4588 - Monograph: P. Inskip; P. Jenkins. 1990. An appraisal of the condition of the garden buildings at the time of acquisition by the National Tru.
  • SZM57350 - Article in serial: 1977. Stowe, Buckinghamshire: The house and garden buildings and their designers. 1977.
  • SZM57351 - Article in serial: 1992. A Work to Wonder At. 189.
  • SZM57352 - Listed Buildings Schedule (Greenback): Listed Buildings descriptions, Stowe Landscape Gardens.
  • SZM57353 - Monograph: 1997. Stowe Landscape Gardens Guidebook.
  • SZM57410 - Monograph: Bevington M.. 1994. Stowe - The Gardens and the Park.
  • SZM6285 - Graphic material: C N Gowing, G B Clarke. 1983. Drawings of Stowe by John Claude Nattes in the Buckinghamshire County Museum.
  • SZM6415 - Report: Angus Wainwright. 1989. The National Trust Archaeological Survey of Stowe, Buckinghamshire (Unpublished).
  • SZM8578 - Monograph: M Bevington. 1990. Templa Quam Dilecta: The Temple of Friendship. 7.
  • SZM947 - Graphic material: J C Nattes. 1805-1809. Views of Stowe.

Status

  • National Monuments Record Reference: SP63NE25

Associated Events

  • ENA2565 - Field Survey, Archaeological Survey of Stowe Park, Stowe Landscape Gardens
  • ENA2640 - Field Survey, Listed Building Descriptons,Stowe Landscape Garden
  • ENA2641 - Field Survey, Stowe Guide Book, Stowe Landscape Gardens
  • ENA3918 - Archaeological Intervention, Monitoring of collapse to vault, Temple of Friendship, Stowe
  • ENA5907 - Archaeological Intervention, Watching brief over trenches 1168-74, Palladian Bridge, Stowe Landscape Gardens
  • ENA6994 - Archaeological Intervention, Excavation of the interior of the Temple of Friendship, Stowe Gardens

Associated Finds

  • FNA5032 - ROOF TILE (Undated)

Related Records

None Recorded