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G. L. Smith after Benton Seeley.
The Temple of British Worthies, A Gate-way by Leoni, The Cold Bath, The Grotto, etched plate in Stowe: A Description of the Magnificent House and Gardens of the Right Honourable Richard Grenville Temple, Earl Temple, Viscount and Baron Cobham . . . Embellished with a General Plan of the Gardens, and also a Separate Plan of Each Building, with Perspective Views of the Same. Revised edition. London: Printed for J. and F. Rivington; B. Seeley in Buckingham; and T. Hodgkinson . . . at Stowe, 1768. Purchased on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2004; PML 128744
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The new phenomenon of tourism at the most famous of all English landscape gardens made an unprecedented success of Benton Seeley's guide to Stowe. Numerous editions from 1744 into the 1830s reflected changes in the garden and created a model for later site-specific guidebooks. The grotto was originally designed by William Kent in the late 1730s as a symmetrical, freestanding structure decorated with flints, colored glass, and shells. Soon covered over with earth, it was then described as a "romantic retirement." By the 1780s, it was more deeply buried, resurfaced with tufa, and planted with vines and conifers for a cavernous effect.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.