Wessex Attractions: Prinknash Abbey

Prinknash Abbey is a Benedictine abbey near Cranham in Gloucestershire, which is the largest manufacturer of incense in Europe. The land was donated to the Abbot of Gloucester in 1096 by Robert Giffard, who had come over with the Bastard. It was closed during the dissolution of the monasteries, but reopened in 1928 after the Earl of Rothes, a Catholic convert, donated the land to the Benedictine monks of Caldey Island, of Tenby.

Prinknash Abbey welcomes visitors on dedicated footpaths, and its cafe and shop are open from 10am to 4pm every day. The chapel is open for quiet prayer daily from 8am to 7.45pm, with mass being celebrated at 8.30am. There are two meeting rooms, holding 35 and 50 people. The postcode is GL4 8EX and Stagecoach Gold service 66 from Cheltenham to Stonehouse stops at a stop deceptively named Prinknash Abbey, which implies that it is right outside, but is actually almost a mile away.

Wessex Attractions: Coleton Fishacre

Coleton Fishacre is a 1920s country house in Devon, owned by the National Trust. The house was originally the retreat of the D'Oyly Carte family, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. It has been preserved much as it was nearly a century ago, and serves as a living museum of the Roaring Twenties.

Originally built in 1926, Coleton Fishacre preserves many curious artifacts from the era, such as a tidal clock to show tide times for nearby Pudcombe Cove, and a marmalade slicer for finely peeling oranges.

The house and gardens are open from 10.30am until 5pm daily, and entry is free to National Trust members. Non-members should check the website for prices. The postcode is TQ6 0EQ. Sadly, access by public transport is limited.

Wessex Attractions: Stourhead

Stourhead is a Georgian villa built in the Palladian style and home of the Hoare family from 1725 until 1946, when it was donated to the National Trust. It is the home to over 8000 historic artifacts, including a cabinet built in Rome for Pope Sixtus V, and an original Axminster carpet which is currently being restored. thanks to a generous donation by the People's Postcode Lottery.

The world famous landscape garden was at the forefront of the 18th century fashion for Italianate gardens. Highlights include a grotto where one can cool off from the summer heat, and a replica of the Pantheon in Rome (illustrated).

The surrounding estate features King Alfred's Tower, built in 1760 to commemorate the Accession of Mad King George and the end of the Seven Years' War. Local tradition says that it stands on the site of an earlier tower, from which King Alfred lit a beacon fire to muster the men of Wessex against the Danes, though there is little evidence to support this story.

The satnav postcode for the car park is BA12 6QD. The house is open from 1100-1600, seven days a week. Sadly, it is not served by public transport, with the nearest bus stop being over a mile away.

Wessex Attractions: Barrington Court

Barrington Court is a Tudor manor in Somerset built from Ham Hill Stone which, in 1907, became the first country house to be bought by the National Trust. The site was originally a Roman villa, but the present house dates back to 1559. It was constructed in the classic Elizabethan E shape, with projecting wings and a central porch.

The house was the country retreat of one William Clifton (c1510-1564), master of the Merchant Tailor's Guild in That London. After Clifton's death, it passed to his descendants until it was bought in 1625 by the wealthy Strode family, cloth merchants from Shepton Mallet.

After passing through a succession of owners, it was gifted to the National Trust by Julia Woodward of Clevedon. Its restoration was paid for by the Lyle family, of Tate & Lyle fame.

Today, the gardens, designed by Gertrude Jekyll, and surrounding parkland are open to the public; and there is a cafe and a shop. The postcode is TA19 0NQ, but the Trust advises visitors not to use this for satnav purposes, as it directs people to the rear entrance. Follow the brown tourist signs instead. The house is also served by Stagecoach bus services 632 and 633, Ilminster to Martock.

Wessex Attractions: Bembridge Windmill

Bembridge Windmill is the last surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight. Bequeathed to the National Trust in 1961, it is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.

The windmill was built around 1700, and has featured in a watercolour by JMW Turner. The first record we have of a named miller is 1811, when the Hampshire Chronicle recorded a Mr Cook, miller of Bembridge, as having frozen to death there.

Today, the mill is preserved much as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries. Those who are able to manage steep steps can climb to the top and see the view, spotting the six hidden millers on the way, On the ground floor, visitors can try their hand at grinding flour in the traditional way, whilst several nature trails run outside the mill.

Visitors are advised not to use the postcode (PO35 5SQ) for satnav purposes, but to follow the brown signs. Southern Vectis bus service 8 from Ryde to Newport passes nearby.