Day 1 - Linking Legacies
Situated just outside Buckland Newton on the A352 are Minterne House and Gardens. The eighteenth-century landscaped gardens form a horseshoe of lakes, streams and waterfalls below the house. Take a guided tour of the house (this must be arranged in advance), and discover the residence of the Churchill and Digby families, who have inhabited this site for over 350 years. During the eighteenth century, the house came into the ownership of Robert Digby, then the youngest son of the Digby family residing in Sherborne Castle.
Continuing north from Minterne House on the A352 will bring you to Sherborne, where lunch can be taken, and to Sherborne Castle. Built in 1594 by Sir Walter Raleigh, the castle has been in the possession of the Digby family since 1617. Like Minterne House, the landscaped gardens surrounding the lake provide an ideal setting for some beautiful walks.
On the north side of Sherborne Lake, opposite Sherborne Castle, lie the ruins of the Old Castle. Built in the twelfth-century by Bishop Roger of Salisbury, it started life as a palace, but was eventually destroyed by a fierce siege in 1645. In Sherborne itself, you will find a number of pleasant places to eat and stay, and the opportunity to indulge in a little retail therapy in some of the town's unique shops.
Day 2 - Stunning Scenes
The village of Athelhampton, 5 miles east of Dorchester on the A35, is home to Athelhampton House & Gardens. Privately owned for 500 years, the house contains some stunning examples of architecture dating back to the fifteenth-century. The gardens comprise manicured lawns and topiary, waterfalls and canals, and an Elizabethan walled garden. Take of lunch in one of the two restaurants that Althelhampton House has to offer, or return to Dorchester, where you will find a number of eating establishments to choose from.
Head back east on the A35 Dorchester by-pass, following signs to Kingston Maurward house and gardens. The property takes its name from the Maurwards, ancient Lords of the area and original owners of the estate. The house was built between 1717-1720, and can be recognised as 'Knapwater House' in Thomas Hardy's novel, 'Desperate Remedies'.
The 1920s formal gardens surrounding the property consist of a series of 'garden rooms', including topiary, water features and an ornamental walled garden. Spectacular views of the parkland and surrounding countryside can be obtained from one of the garden's hilltop terraces.
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