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Dramatic castles, charming cottages and Italian inspired mansions. You’ll find a fantastic selection of National Trust properties in Dorset waiting to be explored.
Dorset is home to many historic houses and stately homes, from the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle to the elegant country mansion of Kingston Lacy.
Keep reading to discover our top six National Trust properties in Dorset…
The captivating ruins of Corfe Castle stand proudly on a rugged hill in Corfe and boast incredible views across the Purbeck Hills. Since its first stone was laid, over 1,000 years ago, Corfe Castle has witnessed multiple battles and important moments in history.
The impressive keep was originally built in the early 12th century for King Henry 1, William the Conqueror’s son. In 1572, the castle was sold by Queen Elizabeth 1 to Sir Christopher Hatton, before being sold again to Sir John Bankes in 1635. Lady Bankes bravely defended the castle during two sieges but was then betrayed by one of her own soldiers.
The mighty castle was eventually destroyed by parliamentary soldiers, leaving a hollow shell of ruins, which remain today. The fortress was finally bequeathed to the National Trust in 1982. The romantic ruins of Corfe Castle are said to be one of Dorset’s most haunted locations, home to a headless woman in white.
Address: The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EZ
Opening Times and Prices: Vary; please check the Corfe Castle National Trust website for more information.
Facilities: Baby-changing facilities available. Dogs welcome on a short lead.
An elegant country house and estate near Wimborne Minster, Kingston Lacy was the family home of the Bankes family after Corfe Castle’s destruction. Built between 1663 and 1665 by Ralph Bankes, this lavish family home was then remodelled by William John Bankes to resemble a Venetian Palace.
Spend a morning appreciating the stunning decorations of the Spanish Room, displaying an array of remarkable paintings or take a stroll through the grounds, surrounded by beautiful landscapes – a great day out for the whole family.
Address: Wimborne Minster, Dorset, BH21 4EA
Opening Times and Prices: Vary; please check the National Trust Kingston Lacy website before visiting.
Facilities: Cafe, shop and toilets. Dogs are welcome on leads in the parkland, woodlands and wider estate, but are not permitted in the formal garden.
Built of cob and thatch in 1840, Hardy’s Cottage is the birthplace of the famous author, Thomas Hardy. Despite training as an architect, writing was Hardy’s passion. It was from this charming cottage, located near Dorchester, that Hardy wrote his early short stories including “Under the Greenwood Tree”.
This endearing National Trust property in Dorset sits beside Thorncombe Woods, an ancient woodland home to Rushy Pond, which inspired many of Thomas Hardy’s works. For more local places that have inspired famous novels, check out these 7 famous Dorset film and literature locations.
Address: Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8QJ
Opening Times and Prices: Vary; please check the Hardy’s Cottage website before visiting.
Facilities: Shop, toilets and Cafe at Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre. Parking available.
The rural retreat of T.E.Lawrence, Clouds Hill is an isolated cottage located in the heart of Dorset, just outside of Wareham. T.E.Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was a British archaeological scholar, military strategist and author.
Lawrence furnished the rooms to his own personal taste and they are much as he left them, giving insight into the life of this extraordinary man to all who visit Clouds Hill Cottage; a popular visitor attraction in Dorset.
Address: King George V Road, Bovington, near Wareham, Dorset, BH20 7NQ
Opening Times and Prices: Vary; please check the Clouds Hill National Trust website before visiting.
Facilities: Free parking available. Dogs on leads are welcome in the wider estate. Assistance dogs only in the cottage.
Nestled within a peaceful, rural setting, White Mill is an 18th-century corn mill. Sat beside a pleasant river, the mill was rebuilt in 1776 on a site marked in the Domesday Book and then extensively repaired in 1994, retaining its original elm and applewood machinery.
Discover the stories of the millers and their families, as you explore the remains of wooden gearing, shafts and frames. Make the most of this tranquil setting, by enjoying the 4-mile circular walks along the river and surrounding countryside.
Address: Sturminster Marshall, near Wimborne Minster, Dorset, BH21 4BX
Opening Times and Prices: Vary; please check the White Mill National Trust website before visiting.
Facilities: Dogs must be kept on a lead.
Designed by Thomas Hardy, Max Gate is an atmospheric Victorian home, just a short walk away from the centre of Dorchester. The impressive house was named after a nearby tollgate keeper, called Mack and was Hardy’s home for over forty years.
Max Gate became a gathering place for some of the world’s greatest authors, artists and academia. Guests included T.E. Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, Sir J.M. Barrie and even The Prince of Wales.
The rooms are furnished, so you can enjoy the space that Hardy created to write and live in, whilst the gardens are still much as they originally were, with high walls and large trees. The gardens are also home to a sundial, designed by Hardy and erected in his memory.
Address: Alington Avenue, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 2FN
Opening Times and Prices: Vary; please check the National Trust Max Gate website before visiting.
Facilities: Toilets and free parking available.
Looking for more things to see and do in the area? Take a look at these eleven wonders of Dorset. Our fantastic range of holiday cottages in Dorset will provide you with the perfect place to stay whilst visiting these National Trust properties in Dorset.