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Parnham House
A beautiful Elizabethan manor house 1 mile south of Beaminster. Restored by Nash, surrounded by gardens landscaped by Inigo Thomas. Furniture maker John Makepeace had the house in recent years, where his modern furniture formed a very interesting complement to the house. A 1911 account of the visit of a party to the house is as follows:
The 'home' part of the ample, richly-timbered deer park of 70 acres surrounding Parnham manor is now undergoing as great alteration as the interior of the house itself; for Mr. Hans Sauerthe wealthy Sud-Africander, who lately purchased the ancient seat of the Strodes and the Oglanders, is laying it out with gardens, lawns and lakes, the effect of which, when complete, promises to be a triumph of the landscape-gardener's art. Under the cool shade cast by the limbs and leafage of immemorial trees the party approached the house, over which they were courteously allowed to look by the new owner. And most were of opinion that it was better to see the house in its present dismantled condition, in s state of transition, than not at all. Those who had visited Parnham during the time of the late Mr. Vincent Robinson, the well-known virtuoso who filled it with old carpets and tapestries, furniture, armour, and a miscellany of objects of virtu, could not fail to be struck by the change in the appearance of the rooms and in the fabric itself.

Turnworth House
The house, in the nineteenth century the home of W.P.Okeden, occcupied a prime location in a valley half a mile below the top of the downs at Okeford Hill. This 1864 coloured etching is a fine view from the hillside to the south of the house. The house somewhat carelessly burned down just after World War II, and was replaced by what can at best be described as a colonial-style bungalow.

Eastbury House
Completed in 1738 by Vanbrugh for George Bubb Dodington, at a cost of £140,000, it was described in 1756 as magnificent, massy and stretching to a great extent in front, with an enormous portico of Doric columns. The greater part of it was demolished by 1800, leaving a wing and this huge archway into the kitchen court, having pine trees growing out of it. Josiah Wedgwood owned it for a while, and there is a supposed haunted room. Owned in the early twentieth century by the Farquharsons (re. The Farquharsons Arms, Pimperne).

This (left) 1907 map excerpt by Bacon shows Eastbury Park just north of the present A354 Blandford to Salisbury road.

Cranborne Manor
Originally built as a hunting lodge in 1207, the building evolved until acquired by the first Earl of Salisbury in c. 1605, when it was in a very poor state. Completely rebuilt from 1610-1640, it was damaged during the Civil War and a new west wing built. During the period c.1700-1860 it was used by two tenant farmers, the present gardens being their farmyards. Further repairs were done by the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury and the Cecil family have lived there ever since.
The manor itself is currently not open to view, but the gardens, originally designed by John Tradescant, are excellent (open every Wednesday Mar-Sept) and there is a well-stocked garden centre.

Tyneham House
The home of the Bond family; essentially lost when the War department took over Tyneham village in WW2 and never returned it.

See also the Tyneham page on this site.

Poxwell Manor
A beautiful small manor house just over the Purbecks from the coast at Ringstead, originally built by Poole merchant family the Hennings.
Poxwell is Pokeswel in this 1650 map.

Athelhampton House

Famously used for filming the Michael Caine film 'Sleuth', Athelhampton is a very interesting 15th-century house just outside Puddletown, now by-passed, with really attractive gardens. Arthur Mee writes:
"England is rich in old churches and old castles, but in homes as old as Athelhampton she is less rich, and Dorset is thankful that civil war and fire have spared her this great estate."
Unfortunately there was a recent fire causing considerable damage but this has largely been repaired. The house and gardens are open to the public.

Lulworth Castle
Slowly being rebuilt after the disastrous fire of August 1929. First built between 1588 and 1609, using stone from the ruins of Bindon Abbey.
Lulworth Estate, St Mary's Church
Dating from 1787, the first Catholic church built after the reformation.

Sherborne Castle (New)
Built towards the end of the sixteenth century with an H-shaped plan and eight hexagonal towers, partly by Walter Raleigh, it was briefly held by Robert Carr, a favourite of James I, then passed in 1617 to Sir John Digby and has remained in the Digby family ever since.

Mapperton Manor
Built in Henry VII's reign (1485-1509) and later expanded, this Elizabethan manor has a beech avenue approaching it and classic gardens. The attached church has interesting stained glass. The Black Death wiped out most if not all of the village of Mapperton before the house was built.

Encombe House
Recently on sale for £15M. it is best to see this house by walking from Kingston village either from the small car park just outside the village towards the coast at Hounstout cliff, or further down then out to Swyre Head. In recent years Kingston village fete has been held in the grounds of the house. Notice the dangerous-looking ladder down the cliffs at the end of the valley.
above, an early 20th century photograph

left, a 19th century etching of Encombe

See also here

Smedmore House
Originally built by William Clavell in James I's reign, to be near his Kimmeridge alum works, the semi-hidden seawards-facing front to the house was constructed in around 1700 by Edward Clavell, and in 1761 the new (main) front was added by George Clavell, the last of the male line.
In recent times open to the public on one weekday.

Crichel House
A great 18th-century house built on the ruins of the Tudor house burned down in 1742. Moving the whole village to allow the house a pleasant aspect (as with Milton Abbey), the relocated village, still called New Town (see map), it took some 40 years to complete.

Upcerne Manor
The manor granted to Sir Walter Raleigh, he sold it to Sir Robert Mellor who built the house in the early 17th century. The fine interior of the house was largely destroyed in the early 19th century. Subsequently held by the Whites then the Battens. Used stone from the ruins of Cerne Abbey.

Sandford Orcas Manor
The manor itself once the property of the Norman family Orescuilz, the current house was erected by Edward Knoyle during Henry VIII's reign, using the orange-tinted ham hill stone. For three hundred years the house was in the Knoyle family and then with the Hutchings. Originally the area was under the Abbot of Glastonbury, being in Somerset until 1896. It was let to farmers from 1740-1880. Picture on the right from 1880's.

Wynford Eagle House
A modest house with an interesting history. Near Maiden Newton, it was rebuilt in 1630 by William Sydenham whose grandson held it until 1700 when he put it up at a private lottery; cheated by prearranging the winner who promptly turned her back on the arrangement, married and sold the estate to a neighbour.

Kingston Russell
In 1506 John Russell, a wine importer of Kinsgton Russell House, was called upon for his (unusual) knowledge of Spanish to help Archduke Philip of Austria and his Spanish wife Joanna, whose ship had sought refuge from a storm at Weymouth. On going to London to see Henry VII, they took John and the King shortly made him a gentleman of the privy chamber; then given employment he distinguished himself and held a series of posts including Ambassador to the Pope, finally becoming the Earl of Bedford; endowed by the King with very substantial landholdings including Woburn Abbey (Bedfordshire) which his family continue to hold.

above, a 19th century etching of the house

Melbury House
A nice house near Evershot. Gardens open to the public each year. Last sold in 1500 by William Bruning to Henry Strangways, the house was rebuilt by his son Giles largely using ham stone from a quarry 9 miles away. There a a particularly magnificent view from within the hexagonal tower which lies at the intersection of three wings of the house. The house has remained in the same family, with name changes due to marriage from Thomas Strangways, Thomas Horner, Stephen Fox (Viscount Ilchester, 1741).

Wolfeton House
The view on the left, from the 1970s, on the right from the 1890's.
Built by Sir Thomas Trenchard around 1500, at Charminster on the River Cerne.

Wimborne St. Giles
The residence of the Earls of Shaftesbury since the first at the time of the Civil War, the 400-acre grounds of this large house have a seven-acre lake and a 1000-yard avenue of trees. The seventh Earl was the most famous as the reforming Lord Shaftesbury in the 19th century, who fought for the abolition of slavery. Arthur Mee writes:
"But every Bill proposed in Parliament by Lord Shaftesbury constitutes an indictment of nineteenth-century England more damning than any that her bitterest foe could draw."

Waterston Manor
Near Puddletown, a modest manor house, except for its south front and east gable, gutted by fire in 1863, and rebuilt by Lord Ilchester.

Anderson Manor
Completed in 1622 by John Tregonwell, this is an extremely fine house near Bere Regis. The manor was held in Domesday times by William de Schohies (Stokes) then by the Turbervilles and in 1450 taken over by the Mortons. Tregonwell purchased it from Sir George Morton in 1620, and it remained in the same family until 1910. Subsequently owned by the Gratrix and Cholmondeleys.

Motcombe House
The home of Lord Stalbridge until 1925, then rented by Pinewood school as war threatened London and now the home of Port Regis school.

Hanford House
Close to the River Stour and below the ancient sites of Hambledon hill and Hod hill. Completed in 1623 by Robert Seymer and held in that family into the twnetieth century. (the male Seymer line died out in 1864 but the owner assumed the name) Now a private school.

Stock House
At Stock Gaylard, near King's Stag, Stock House is a modest Queen Anne house set in a 100-acre deer park. Next to a church founded in the 13th century, ivy-covered in this 1895 photograph.

Kingston Lacy
Near Wimborne, below Badbury Rings, lies Dorset's most visited great house. The print (left) is from 1830, just before the additions of 1835-40.

Edmonsham House
Near Cranborne, Elizabethan with Georgian additions. The manor bought in 1560 by Thos. Hussey, the house dated on the porch as 1589. Following the death of the third Hussey in 1745, ownership descended via the Frys and the Bowers to the Monros.

Bloxworth House

Creech Grange

Branksea (Brownsea) Castle

Canford House
In Plantaganet times the ancient manor house of Canford was owned successively by the Earls of Salisbury, then the Beauforts, Courtenays and Blounts. All except the kitchens of the ancient house were demolished in 1765, and the new house built in 1826 by Lord de Mauley. Enlarged by Sir John Guest in 1848 with the addition of great hall, gallery and tower.

Purse Caundle Manor

Other great houses & manors (being researched)
Bingham's Melcombe
Bryanston House
Came House
Chettle House
Charborough Park
Clifton Maybank
Dewlish House
Godlingston Manor
Hammoon Manor
Herringston House
Kingston Maurward
Melplash Court
Melcombe Horsey
Merley House
Stalbridge Park
Stepleton House
Waddon Manor
Warmwell House
Whatcombe House
Winterbourne Clenston
Wraxall Manor