Within a county known for its outstanding beauty, there are further pockets of gardens and nature that highlight the wonder of Dorset. There are many stunning buildings in the county, set in some fantastically thought out and well-designed gardens that are very much worth visiting. We’ve taken a look through some of these stately properties and compiled our top five homes and gardens in Dorset for you to explore.
Recently featured in the 2015 film ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, featuring Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, Forde Abbey can trace its history back to medieval beginnings. Once the home of monks, it is now a popular visitor attraction.
A great pond is the original feature of the garden, with water being the central theme of the garden. There is a grand fountain next to the house, sending water 160ft into the air. Around this is a selection of trees and pretty flower beds in which to lose yourself. Opening very soon is a ‘Pick Your Own Fruit Farm’.
Mapperton is a classic sandstone manor house rich in history. The owners have a vast collection of artwork, paintings, ship models, and classic books that need to be seen to be believed.
Step outside into the valley gardens, reflecting upon three periods of history. A croquet lawn is at the top, leading down to an Italianate garden with grottos, stone ornamental animals and fountains. Below this are fishing ponds and wild gardens with a vast variety of shrubbery and trees.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens
Originally established by a Countess in 1765 as a garden for her nearby castle, Abbotsbury developed into a 30 acre garden filled with rare and exotic plants from around the world, many the first introductions to this country.
Since 1990 it has continued to be restored and developed to make it more beautiful than ever before, with new, exotic and unusual flowers being introduced. Visit these gardens for stunning views of the Jurassic Coast and put your feet up as a couple on the new romantic swinging bench. A restaurant, gift shop and plant centre are now available, adding to the already excellent day out.
Athelhampton House and Gardens
A history stretching back 1000 years, a building that has stood for over five centuries, a great hall built in 1485 and river walks through the gardens, what more could you want from a visit to a stately home in Dorset? Step back in time at Athelhampton and discover what life was like as many of the rooms, from dining to bed, are preserved and presented as they once were.
In the garden, you will find variety, where formal architecture meets woodland scenes. A striking pyramid hedge garden leads onto canals, ponds, walled courts and river walk through natural areas.
Stock Gaylard House
Not so much a garden, but a grand estate of natural fields and woodland set around a natural deer park. You won’t find flower beds here, or walled areas with ponds, just a giant estate full of nature. The grade II listed Georgian house overlooks the Deer Park, and the garden begins with an iron gate with lawns, box hedging, and mature trees. This sits in an estate 1700 acres in size that includes oak woodland, common ground and a small lake. An official Site of Scientific Interest, Stock House is the ideal place to visit for an untouched wildlife playground.
For accommodation near any of these houses and gardens check out our hotels, holiday parks and cottages pages for details.