Wessex Attractions: North Street, Brighstone

When visiting the Isle of Wight, be sure to take a look at the pretty village of Brighstone. North Street is now owned by the National Trust, and its picturesque cottages have been preserved more or less as they were in the 18th century. There is a library and youth hostel on the street, and a traditional village shop just around the corner on Main Road.

Brighstone is situated within the Isle of Wight AONB, along the coastal route between Ventnor and Freshwater. The postcode for North Street is PO30 4AX, and Southern Vectis bus route 12 (Newport to Alum Bay) stops near the Three Bishops pub on Main Road.

Wessex Attractions: Shute Barton

Shute Barton is a late-medieval manor house near Axminster, owned by the National Trust and now converted into a 5-bedroom luxury holiday home, accommodating up to 10 guests. It features a 15-foot high window, allowing you to survey the grounds from within, and one of the largest fireplaces in England.

The oldest parts of the house date back to 1380, and it was then owned by Sir William Bonville, Sheriff of Somerset, Dorset and Devon. Most of the surviving building is of a much later date, however. The whole manor was sensitively renovated in 1955.

Bonville's great-granddaughter Cecily married Thomas Grey, later the 1st Marquess of Dorset, and as she was the sole living descendant of the Bonville line, the house passed to his family, later being inherited by Lady Jane Grey. Upon her execution, Queen Mary awarded it to her Secretary of State, Sir William Petrie, who later sold it to a lawyer named William Pole for £300 (£156,900.61 in today's money, according to the Bank of England inflation calculator). Her ghost is still said to haunt the grounds, although others say the ghost is that of a female member of the royalist Pole family, who was ambushed while out walking by a parliamentarian lynch mob during the civil war.

In 1959, the Pole family donated Shute Barton to the National Trust, though they retain the right to live there. The estate is opened to visitors four times a year, and is a popular venue for wedding receptions and other special events. If you are interested in booking it for a minimum of three nights, click here.

Wessex Attractions: Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is a nature reserve just off Poole, jointly run by the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust, It is reached by a ferry which runs hourly from Poole Quay and takes 20 minutes to reach the island.

There is a campsite on the island, located close to the site where Lord Baden-Powell held the first ever Scout camp in 1907; and a lodge, which sleeps up to 24 people in bunk bed accommodation. There are also two holiday cottages, each sleeping up to five people. The Villano Cafe is open during the day, serving snacks and light meals to visitors.

Brownsea Island is one of two places in Wessex with a population of red squirrels, the other of course being the Isle of Wight. Daily squirrel walks are organised by volunteers. Also resident on the island are sika deer, a species originally introduced from Japan around the turn of the 19th century. Stags have sometimes been spotted swimming from the mainland in order to mate with the island's does!

Bird species include spoonbills, avocets, sandwich terns and nightjars. The latter are a rare visitor from Africa, which are on the amber list for conservation concern in the UK.

You can now buy a single ticket which covers both the ferry and admission to the island, with discounts for National Trust or Dorset Wildlife Trust members, See the National Trust website for more details.

Wessex Attractions: Sandham Memorial Chapel

Sandham Memorial Chapel was constructed in the town of Burghclere in order to house the paintings of Stanley Spencer, whose work we have covered here previously. It was built between 1926 and 1932 from a design by Spencer himself, with work being delayed by the 1926 general strike.

The chapel was largely funded by Spencer's patrons Louis and Mary Behrend, who also purchased the meadow to the south in order to preserve the view of nearby Watership Down from the chapel.

The chapel was gifted to the National Trust in 1947, and the meadow in 1960. The chapel was awarded listed building status in 1984.

The chapel is currently closed due to the national lockdown. The postcode, for when it reopens, is RG20 9JT. The nearest station is Newbury, approximately 4 miles away, Buses are infrequent.

Wessex Attractions: Portland House

Portland House is a National Trust-owned hotel in Dorset. Built in the 1930s in California Mission Revival style. Its original decor has been preserved where possible.

Overlooking Portland harbour, it makes a great base for exploring the Jurassic Coast, and nearby attractions such as Hardy's Cottage.

The full address is: 24 Belle Vue Rd, Weymouth DT4 8RZ, Please note that booking is currently limited due to lockdown restrictions.