This pencil drawing from 1805 is one of over 100 drawings of Stowe by Nattes.
Labourers are hard at work, doing repairs from rather flimsy scaffolding. The obelisk was originally an eye-catching feature in Stowe’s Octagon Lake. It was moved to the deer park in 1754 and set up on a new plinth, standing over 100 feet high. It was later dedicated to the memory of General Wolfe, a friend of the Temple family and visitor to Stowe.
Major-General James Wolfe was Britain’s most celebrated military hero of the 18th century. His victory over the French at Quebec in 1759 resulted in the unification of Canada and the American colonies under the British crown. His death, aged only 32, at the moment of this victory earned him a reputation as a patriotic martyr that was unmatched by any British hero until Admiral Nelson.
But who remembers him now?