Wessex Attractions: Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is a Restoration-era country house near Wimborne Minster in Dorset, the former seat of the aristocratic Bankes family. In the 1830s, William John Bankes remodelled it in the style of a Venetian palace with the help of Sir Charles Barry, the architect who helped rebuild the Houses of Parliament. Sadly, he never saw his vision fully realised, as he was forced into exile in Venice in 1841 after being found guilty of homosexual acts, at a time when they were still illegal.

In 1981, the house was gifted to the National Trust by Ralph Bankes, the biggest-ever bequest to the Trust. The bequest included not only the house itself, but the family’s extensive collection of art treasures, which include paintings by Rubens, Titian and Van Dyck.

The house is surrounded by 410 acres of parks and gardens. A herd of pedigree Red Ruby Devon cattle roam the grounds, which also feature the Iron Age hillfort of Badbury Rings, the Holt Heath SSSI, and most dramatically of all, the Philae Obelisk, brought over from Egypt, which was instrumental in helping to decode Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Kingston Lacy stands on the B3082, the Blandford to Wimborne road, and is marked by brown tourist signposts. Sadly, it is not accessible by public transport. The nearest bus stop is 3 miles away, and the nearest railway station, Poole, 8½ miles away. The postcode is BH21 4EA, and the what3words address is outgrown.mysteries,assets