Coastal Castles & Magnificent Mansions of Dorset
We wind our way through the stunning Surrey countryside, the rolling downs of Hampshire and the New Forest National Park to discover the coastal castles and magnificent mansions of Dorset. We visit the ancestral home of William and Ali Hanham, Deans Court, which has been in their family for nearly 500 years. We also visit Highcliffe Castle, a Grade I listed building which was the brainchild of Lord Stuart de Rothesay, the opulent Venetian palace-styled Kingston Lacy, as well as fascinating collections at the Russell Cotes House and Gallery. We enjoy a nostalgic journey on the heritage Swanage Railway and have the chance to explore the ruins of Corfe Castle. The artillery fortress of Portland Castle also features, as we learn about its long serving history from its commission by Henry the VIII in 1540 to defend England against European invasion from the French and Spanish to the roles it played in both World Wars. We delve into another facet of Tudor history with visits to Sherborne Castle and Athelhampton Hall, both great examples of stately homes of this period. At the latter, we are also treated to a delightful lunch before returning to our original joining points.
Coach Bays on Tothill Street, Westminster
Outside the Railway Station
Please note that all timings are approximate and subject to change. Final timings and pick-up points will be confirmed with your joining instructions approximately 10 days prior to departure.
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Day 1 -
We depart London and head south-westwards through Surrey and Hampshire to Dorset, home to some of the most beautiful coastline and rolling countryside in all the United Kingdom. The first stop on our exploration of the magnificent houses and coastal castles of Dorset is Deans Court, an exquisite historic house set in mature gardens and just a short distance from the centre of Wimborne Minster. It is owned by William and Ali Hanham and has been in William’s family for almost 500 years. Inside we will find a long line of ancestral portraits that provide a remarkable example of private heritage. Thought to have been built in the 8th Century by King Ine of Wessex and his sister St Cuthburga, it is the oldest surviving house in Wimborne. The gardens at Deans Court feature a large solitary fishpond, historic walled permaculture gardens, streams, herb garden and an orchard. After some time to explore we head to our hotel for some time to relax before dinner is served in the restaurant.
|Hotel||Norfolk Royale Hotel, Bournemouth|
Day 2 -
After breakfast we head to the opulent Kingston Lacy, which was built to emulate a Venetian Palace and was formerly home to the Bankes family, who over the centuries altered, embellished and rebuilt the house until it became what it is today. Their source of wealth was from large sprawling estates and profitable marriages. It was William John Bankes who crafted and designed the house as it appears today, creating the lavishly decorated interiors including the astonishing Spanish room. Housing notable paintings by the likes of Rubens, Van Dyke, Titian and Brueghel, the house is often referred to as a ‘miniature National gallery’ for the Southwest. It also is home the Bankes collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, the largest private collection in the UK.
This afternoon we head to the coastal artillery fortress, Portland Castle which was built by Henry VIII to 1540 to protect again invasions from France and Spain. It overlooks the sprawling harbour and played a pivotal role in both World Wars. There is much to explore including the Tudor Kitchen, Herb Garden, the Armoury and the Gun platform. We will enjoy a guided tour which details some 450 years of the castle’s history before heading back to our hotel.
Day 3 -
This morning we board one the heritage rail cars that run along the Swanage Railway heading for Corfe Castle, a line that was originally opened in 1885. We have the morning to explore the ruins of Corfe Castle, a thousand-year-old castle which was partially destroyed by Cromwell’s troops in 1646 before return to Swanage.
This afternoon we head to the Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. This Grade II listed building was once known as East Cliff Hall. One of the most fascinating historical houses in England, it was once home to two Victorian collectors, Sir Melton and Lady Annie Russell-Cotes. The main hall has an exceptional collection of high Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art including many pieces by female artists. Throughout the rest of the house, we can see pieces from the couple’s world travels with pieces from Russia, Australia, New Zealand and the world-famous Japanese collection. After our ‘Story of the Victorian Villa’ tour, which details the history of the property further, we have some light refreshments to enjoy before heading back to the hotel.
Day 4 -
We depart this morning for the 16th-Century Tudor mansion Sherborne Castle, nestled in some 1200 acres of parklands. Home to the Wingfield Digby family since 1617 and built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594, Sherborne Castle is reflective of some 400 years’ worth of decorative styles. There are nationally important collections of furniture, paintings, and porcelain to discover inside. Outside, stroll through Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped gardens which are now Grade I listed and one of his first commissions, and which have remained largely unchanged.
After lunch we depart for Highcliffe Castle. Built between 1831 and 1836 it is the brainchild of one man - Lord Stuart de Rothesay. When it was constructed, Lord Stuart was following in the footsteps of his grandfather, the 3rd Earl of Bute, who was an avid botanist and created a smaller version of Kew perched on the cliff edge and mansion on the same site. However, the mansion that was built by Lord Stuart’s grandfather was built during the 1770s but only remained in place for some 38 years before the land springs and erosion destabilised it. Highcliffe Castle is said to be one of the most important surviving houses of the Romantic and Picturesque styles of architecture and is Grade I listed. The Castle also sits in some 14 acres of land including a manicured Parterre adjacent to the Wintergarden and ancient woodlands that connect all the way to Steamer Point Nature Reserve.
We later return to the hotel for dinner.
Day 5 -
We check out and depart for our final historic house in Dorset Athelhampton Hall, one of the finest Tudor manor houses to be found in England. The Great Hall is the very heart of the house and was built in 1485 when it comprised the entire accommodation. The Western Wing was then added in the 16th century as the house was domesticated and there have been many additions over the centuries. The Great Hall showcases great Tudor architecture in the form of its linenfold panelling, ancient heraldic stained glass, and minstrel’s gallery. In the West Wing we will find the Great Chamber with elegant furnishings and the library with a billiard table and vast collection of books. You will also find the Kings’ room where, once upon a time, taxes would have been collected. It is also home to a lovely example of a 17th century Oak Tester Bed and Armada Chest. In the East wing we find the Dining and Drawing rooms on the ground floor and the Marriage Chamber on the first floor. We have a guided tour through the house to explore all these treasures before we are treated to a light two course lunch accompanied by a glass of wine, tea and coffee.
We then say goodbye to Dorset as we head back to our original joining points.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Lunch|
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Meals - as per the itinerary
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|2 May 2023||BCMD230502||2 May 2023 (Tuesday)||6 May 2023 (Saturday)||£945
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|21 June 2023||BCMD230621||21 June 2023 (Wednesday)||25 June 2023 (Sunday)||£945
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|13 September 2023||BCMD230913||13 September 2023 (Wednesday)||17 September 2023 (Sunday)||£915
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