Teased into the best of moods by the presence of a decent lodge guarding the drive to the property, my mood soon deteriorated because of several factors. Somewhere a wedding was gathering. On the front lawn a parade of classic cars was attracting several variations on Toad of Toad Hall, "Poop Poop!".

I was half in pursuit of two paintings by Fred Leighton. Teasing one guide about the gloom in the major galleries, it was clear that visitors regularly complained about the absence of light, and the impossibility of seeing any of the decent collection. I was offered a hand torch with which to explore the Richard Wilson, but the Leighton was skied and only a vestige of its masterly melancholia could be appreciated from beneath. Because I purported to be an art historian (with great difficulty these days) the Chief Attendant turned on the Chandelier while I studied it. The David Teniers Cottage Interior would have been impenetrable even under a searchlight trained directly on its darkened varnish.

What most disturbed me was entering the Stourhead experience through a sliced reproduction of a Claudian landscape (top row).

I remembered my favourite instance of the destruction of Art. Inviting the public to see a recently commissioned giant canvas of a mythological scene , the painter Peter Cornelius was dissatisfied with the critical response around him and made his exit through the canvas itself at top speed, disappearing into the distance. I did the same as I left Stourhead.