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Location

Dorset Map

Athelhampton House pulls off a clever trick. It feels like a small medieval manor house with an intimate garden. The sort of place you could imagine living in.

In fact, with the nineteenth and early twentieth century additions to the rear more than doubling its original size, it is a substantial property, and the old parts of the house and the gardens are now a popular and busy visitor attraction.

The oldest part is the Great Hall, which was built in 1485, the year Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The West Wing was added in the early sixteenth century.

Thus it remained, more or less, until it was bought by the splendidly named Alfred Cart de la Fontaine in 1891 who undertook a heavy, but not too heavy-handed, restoration.

Check the Athelhampton House & Gardens website for opening times, admission prices, etc.

The formal gardens to the south and east of the house were originally laid out by Inego Jones for Cart de la Fontaine in the 1890s.

These form a very satisfactory series of interconnected "rooms" centred around The Corona with its spiky circular wall.

The current owners have continued to develop the gardens and, at the time of my visit (2015), work had started to bringing the old kitchen gardens back into use.

Much of the interior dates from the Cart de la Fontaine restoration, even things like the fine ceiling of the Great Chamber which dates from 1905.

The furnishings, for the most part, reflect the medieval theme, and even the extraordinary copper bath in the Yellow Bedroom Closet somehow seems to blend in.