Feature: A glimpse into prestigious Stowe School

Grand opening of Stowe House's new Welcome and Discovery Centre
Grand opening of Stowe House's new Welcome and Discovery Centre
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Most schools don’t have canteens with ornate ceilings, libraries with chandeliers, common rooms with leather sofas and a cricket pavilion with pillars at the entrance.

But Stowe School isn’t exactly a normal school.

Grand opening of Stowe House's new Welcome and Discovery Centre - pictured is the Welcome Centre

Grand opening of Stowe House's new Welcome and Discovery Centre - pictured is the Welcome Centre

The annual boarding fees are in excess of £30,000 and alumni include entrepreneur Richard Branson, supermarket supremo Lord Sainsbury, British Olympic Association chief executive Simon Clegg, actor David Niven and jazz singer George Melly.

Thousands of visitors got a glimpse into this privileged world at the grand opening of the new Welcome and Discovery Centre at Stowe House on Sunday, when entry was free to the house and the National Trust gardens.

Visitor services manager Ruth Peters said: “Its been a huge success.

“On a normal Sunday we have a few hundred, and today we have had more than 3,500.

Pictured enjoying a picnic are Keith and Sue Miller with daughter Gemma Smith and her children Jack (2) and Amy (1)

Pictured enjoying a picnic are Keith and Sue Miller with daughter Gemma Smith and her children Jack (2) and Amy (1)

“The key message today is to tell visitors that we are open to the public.

“We’ve been going for 15 years, but not in a big way. This is our splash.

“We are very family friendly and interactive.”

During term time access to the house, which is used by Stowe School for 750 pupils, is by guided tour only.

Pictured checking out the displays of the schools history are Liz Jones and her daughters Emily (5) and Maisie (10)

Pictured checking out the displays of the schools history are Liz Jones and her daughters Emily (5) and Maisie (10)

But during holiday times visitors are free to visit the state rooms at their leisure.

The new centre, created in the former wine cellars, tells the story of the history of the house, first as an enormous and elaborate home for a family, then its transformation into a school.

Stowe has been visited by everyone from Queen Victoria to the Beatles, and the house has been affiliated with four prime ministers.

Its history is fascinating. The Temple-Grenvilles, once the richest family in England, became the greatest debtors in the world.

Grand opening of Stowe House's new Welcome and Discovery Centre

Grand opening of Stowe House's new Welcome and Discovery Centre

Stowe, their greatest creation, was abandoned and its beautiful treasure sold.

In 1923 it was restored from the brink of demolition by the founders of Stowe School.

And in 1997 the Stowe House Preservation Trust was created to manage a restoration plan.

The charm of Stowe House is that is it a fully functioning working property, but this can affect opening times.

Throughout August it is open 11am-5pm Sunday-Friday (closed Saturdays).

Full details of times and entry prices can be found at www.stowe.co.uk/house/visiting-stowe/opening-times

Pictured is the Palladian Bridge

Pictured is the Palladian Bridge