“NEVER were accommodations so wretched,” complained a Mrs Lybbe Powys after her visit in 1775 – but fast-forward to today, and after a £9 million makeover, there were no such complaints from Furze Down School pupils.
The privileged Winslow youngsters were some of the first to enjoy the new facility and learn life skills at the refurbished site.
The coaching inn, next to Stowe’s Corinthian Arch, was a virtual ruin when the National Trust bought it in 2005. Barns and other structures around the coachyard were little more than heaps of brick and tile, and parts of the main building were in danger of collapse.
But after the refurbishment the inn has now taken on a new lease of life as the National Trust’s visitor centre for Stowe.
While modern amenities such as a 400-space car park and an impressive new restaurant will cater for the demands of the modern tourist, the rebuilding has been carried out as carefully as possible to create a vibrant portrait of late 18th century life.
David Brooks, the National Trust’s property manager at Stowe, said: “Until now we were lacking a heart to the property – somewhere worthy of the magnificent grounds.
“Rebuilding the New Inn means that day-trippers can now follow in the footsteps of the original Georgian tourists.”
“After staying the night at the New Inn, early tourists would enter the garden at Bell Gate, where they would ring a bronze bell and pay a gardener to escort them around the grounds.”
Bell Gate has been restored and reopened for modern visitors. The old garden entrance near Dadford, now solely for the use of school traffic, was originally the back door to Stowe.
“The reinstatement of Bell Gate means that visitors will now catch their first glimpse of the breathtaking grounds as they were originally intended,” added Mr Brooks. .