Kingston Lacy

Wimborne Minster Dorset BH21 4EA

When there are paintings by Titian on the wall and a basement room stuffed full of genuine Egyptian artefacts, you know you're not visiting any old house. The former private home of the influential Bankes family was built to resemble an Italian palace and the Saloon is hung with priceless works of art by the likes of Rubens and Van Dyck. Rooms are set out as they would have looked when the family lived here, including the upper bedrooms, decorated like military tents so visiting soldiers would feel at home. Outside the substantial grounds include woodland walks, a Japanese garden, rolling lawns and a fair few sheep. There's a café in the former stables and a second hand bookshop too, should you feel like spending the day with an old book under the trees. 

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