Stately Homes in Dorset

Dorset is home to some of the most spectacular homes and gardens in the country, all with their own stories and hidden histories. Just imagine these homes in their hay day, playing host to English aristocracy, dignitaries and famous faces!

If you appreciate beautiful, tranquil and intimate settings, you can find your corner of paradise in these lavish and charming formal gardens.

A long list of famous figures

Many of Dorset’s gardens and grand houses have direct links to some of England’s most famous historical figures.

Visit the very cottage where famous author Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and then explore the Victorian house Max Gate that Hardy designed himself and lived in up until his death in 1928.

Built in 1594 by Sir Walter Raleigh, the magnificent Sherborne Castle is surrounded by 30 acres of stunning gardens and pleasure grounds. The eighteenth century 'Capability' Brown landscape provides a peaceful and tranquil setting with magnificent specimen trees, borders and sweeping lawns. Wander along paths and trails surrounding a beautiful 50-acre lake inhabited by abundant wildlife found both on the lake and adjacent grounds.

Amazing architecture and wonderful art collections

Kingston Lacy near Wimborne Minster was built in the 17th century. It is an elegant country mansion designed to replicate an Italian Palace and is home to a fine art collection. These include paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Brueghel, plus a host of carvings, intimate family souvenirs and even an ‘I owe you’ from a king. In the grounds you will find an ancient Egyptian obelisk, a Japanese Garden and restored Victorian kitchen garden.

Athelhampton House is one of the finest 15th century examples of Tudor architecture and is surrounded by one of the great architectural gardens of England. The Gallery in the west wing exhibits works by the Russian artist Marevna who lived at the house in the 1940s and 50s. The striking Grade I Listed gardens date back to 1891 and are most famous for their pyramid shaped yew trees that dominate The Great Court. The house is also well known for the stunning octagonal pond and their collections of tulips, roses, magnolias, clematis and lilies.

Exotic Paradise

Explore the scenic bliss that lies within Bennetts Water Gardens and follow pathways as they lead you through the series of stunning ponds and lakes blanketed in 140 different varieties of water lilies. The eight acre site of tranquil lakes and a world famous lily collection is surrounded by wetland plants, native trees, palms, wild plants and flowers. Sit and unwind amidst a tropical paradise and explore the shaded woodland walks and exotic plants in The Tropical House.

The 20 acre colourful splendour of Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens is filled with exotic plants and is world famous for its camellia groves and magnolias. The unique micro climate enables rare and exotic species from all over the world to thrive here and the gardens have won the silver medal at Chelsea and silver gilt at Hampton Court Show flower shows.

Award Winning Gardens

Mapperton House and Gardens is a stunning setting that was featured in the Mail on Sunday’s Top 10 British Gardens. With a gentle walk around this magnificent garden you will be able to see why it’s thought of so highly. The house is a Jacobean manor overlooking the 15 acre garden with orangery, topiary and borders, descending to ponds and arboretum. There are outstanding views of the surrounding Dorset hills and woodlands.

Inspiring gardens and horticulture

With Dorset’s mild and bright climate it’s no wonder that it’s home to some magical gardens and horticultural masterpieces. Take in the grandeur of these wonderful grounds that have been painstakingly cared for over hundreds of years.

Enthusiastic horticulturalists will love the world-famous displays of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias at Exbury Gardens. Wander along a riverside walk, stop for something to eat at their tea rooms and take a look at captivating art exhibitions. For mini gardeners there are 20 miles of pathways to explore, play areas and a steam railway.

Laid out in a horse shoe shape, Minterne Gardens host world renowned and unique collections of flowers and plants. Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas, spring bulbs, cherries, maples and many fine and rare trees all sit in stunning harmony with a chain of small lakes, waterfalls and streams. Meander along the mile long trail and use the benches to sit and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of your surroundings and picturesque views.

Stay a while

With so many superb stately homes and gardens in Dorset, why not take a long weekend to explore them all and find your perfect spot of paradise.

Use our accommodation search to find your ideal overnight stay. Warm up over a cup of tea and cake at one of Dorset’s best spots for Afternoon Tea and check out great places to eat out.

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