Whatever time of year you visit Kingston Lacy, there’s always something to enjoy.
From Snowdrops flowering in Feburary to a spectacular display of azalea, camellia, rhododendron and flowering cherries in the Spring.
In Summer, enjoy the brightly-planted Parterre or wander along the Lady’s Walk to the restored Kitchen Garden with its glasshouses. Don’t miss the dark, brooding Fernery, the Sunk Garden and the Japanese Garden filled with ornaments including a Tea House.
There is a woodland walk around the perimeter which takes about an hour.
National Trust members visit for free.
Kingston Lacy was built by Sir Roger Pratt for Sir Ralph Bankes in 1663. Bankes also laid out the elaborate Franco-Dutch gardens. These were swept away in 1780s when fashions changed and formality became unpopular.
In 1835, William Bankes commissioned Charles Barry to make extensive changes to the house. Described by Lord Byron as the ‘father of all mischiefs’, Bankes travelled widely and sent many sculptures and works of art back to England.
Accused of homosexuality, Bankes fled England although it is believed he made several secret visits to Kingston Lacy to check on the garden and the house.
In 1981, Bankes’s grandson left the estate of 16,000 acres to the National Trust.
The Bankes archives are at Dorset History Centre and contain numerous letters and diaries. There are 800 boxes and the National Trust has recently begun to collate them.