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The House and Gardens

Location

Dorset Map

OS Ref: ST 976 014

Last Visited: 2013

The Entrance Front Kingston Lacy House

The Entrance Front
Kingston Lacy House

In 1981 Ralph Banks, the last male descendant of the family that had owned the Kingston Lacy estate (along with the Corfe Castle estate in the Purbecks) since around 1632, gave the whole lot to the National Trust, much to the annoyance of his sisters.

The Audit Room

The Audit Room

A reclusive man by nature, he had been reduced to living in just four rooms, whilst dry rot took over the rest of the house, the roof started to collapse and the gardens became overgrown.

Since then the trust has done a tremendous job, repairing and restoring the house and gardens, which are now look almost as they did when Ralphʼs mother, the formidable Henrietta (a widow for 49 years), ruled the roost with an iron will.

Unlike many earlier bequests that came to the trust as empty shells, Kingston Lacy still had and has all its furniture, ornaments and its important collection of paintings. In fact, if one has a criticism, it is that the Victorian fondness for clutter is too well preserved.

The Garden Front

The Garden Front

The house was started as a two story red-brick hall built in the second half of the seventeenth century; the interior was remodelled in the eighteenth century, but its current appearance largely dates to the alterations carried by the architect Charles Barry for William John Banks (1786-1855).

He clad the outside of the building in Chilmark stone, lowered the ground on three sides to create a new entrance hall in the old cellar, and added the cupola and roof balustrade.

For opening times, admission prices, etc. please see the National Trustʼs official site, detailed below.

The Gardens

The Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden

Whilst inside the house it was largely a question of restoration and repair, outside the trust has had to use a bit more imagination.

Although some records and photographs exist, along with the recollections of former estate workers, the overgrown state of the garden left few clues to its original appearance.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Japanese Garden which in 1981 was a weed infested jungle with only three of the original plants surviving.

Still a work in progress, it is now the trustʼs largest Japanese Garden. And very nice it is too, even if it owes more to the current generation of gardeners than it does to those employed by Henrietta Banks to create the original.

Kingston Lacy's Kitchen Gardens

Location

Dorset Map

OS Ref: ST 980 006

Last Visited: 2013

Old Sheds and Greenhouses

Old Sheds and Greenhouses

The Kitchen Gardens at Kingston Lacy House have long lain derelict, their presence only being marked by two pair of otherwise somewhat incongruous wrought iron gates almost buried in the hedgerow.

Cold Frames and Greenhouses

Cold Frames and Greenhouses

However in 2010, the National Trust came up with a scheme to restore them and turn them into community allotments, together with growing space for their restaurant and some raised beds for less able gardeners.

They can be visited from the main gardens, but are also accessible from Abbott Street.

External Links and References