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Help with decisions on Historic Houses/Gardens/Churches In SW England

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Jan 21st, 2014, 01:14 PM
  #1
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Help with decisions on Historic Houses/Gardens/Churches In SW England

We will be in SW England at the end of March. I'm working on the itinerary for the 6 days we will be in Cornwall (I will post later for your suggestions) but right now I am trying to decide on our first full day there.

After our late evening arrival at Heathrow we will pick up our rental car and stay overnight at Great Fosters in Egham. The next morning (a Wednesday) we will leave after breakfast headed for a B&B outside Sherborne, where we will stay for 2 nights. We expect to leave Great Fosters around 8:30- 9:00, Google says it's a little over 2 hrs from Egham to the B&B.

So we have time for 1 maybe 2 properties. I've looked at Lytes Cary Manor, it is not open on Thursdays, which is our main day for touring in the area, so Wednesday is our only chance. (On Thursday I'm thinking of Montacute, East Lambrook Manor Gardens, and Sherborne Abbey if time) The only other place I found nearby to Lytes Cary was Barrington Court. (Tintinhull doesn't open until after we leave) I'm not sure how I feel about touring an empty house.

South of Sherborne I found Kingston Lacy, and Athelhampton was recommended to me, and looked interesting. They are only about 30 min apart, and 30 min from the B&B

We are interested in gardens that will have some interest in early spring, but we both also love old, large specimen trees. And of course interesting old houses.

So any suggestions as to another place near Lytes Cary, or has anyone been to Kingston Lacy or Athelhampton House?

All suggestions and recommendations welcome!
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Jan 21st, 2014, 01:58 PM
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Have been to Kingston Lacey a half-dozen time and enjoyed the house and its fine collection (art, furniture) a great deal. The gardens are wonderful too and depending on the time of year the rhods are beautiful. Athelhampton is interesting with great gardens too, but Kingston Lacey is a favourite for us.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 02:00 PM
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Stourhead? it's only 30 mins or so west from Lytes Carey.

Wells is also about 30 mins away, this time going north.

DH says that Sherborne Abbey is gorgeous, but I've not been.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 02:23 PM
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If you go to Kingston Lacy, try to visit Wimborne Minster church, which is nearby.
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Jan 21st, 2014, 03:47 PM
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annhig, we have been to Stourhead twice (LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!) so looking for someplace else this time

Sherborne Abbey does look wonderful, if we can't make it on Wednesday we may try on Thursday after others, or Friday when we leave for Portmellon

Ackislander ~ Wimborne Minster Church looks awesome!

At the moment I'm thinking Kingston Lacy & Athelhampton,unless someone can convince me that Lytes Cary is better?
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 07:41 AM
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wrenwood - we liked Lytes Carey but it's not very exciting - good teas though!

I didn't know or had forgotten that you've been to Stourhead.

Montacute is very nice - the hedges are particularly impressive.

Across the other side of the motorway, Dunster is lovely, both town and the Castle and you might recognise the town from an episode of Poirot where it does service for Cornwall.

are you going to go to Wells?
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 07:44 AM
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If you do Kingston Lacy (which has lovely gardens) you might like to drive up to Badbury Rings, not a great garden but a soil bank fort from pre-Roman times in a commanding position. Free to get in, just use the official carparks.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 09:48 AM
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Which route are you taking from Egham to Sherborne? If you take the slower but more direct route on the A30, this will take you through Salisbury, where the cathedral and the city itself are well-worth seeing. Further west, you could take a small detour to see Wardour Castle, too often forgotten now, but in a stunning situation and with an interesting history. Near there is Shaftesbury, about as typical a traditional English market town as you can get, and with the famous view down Gold Street.

After leaving Sherborne, have you thought of visiting Knightshayes near Tiverton? It's a Victorian gothic revival house in a large estate, now managed by the National Trust.

I shall keep quiet about Castle Drogo.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 11:02 AM
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"I shall keep quiet about Castle Drogo."

How up to date are you?

Drogo was extraordinarily badly built, and is now being extensively refurbished - going on being rebuilt. So it's covered in lots of scaffolding and white plastic.

But inside you still get an extraordinary sense of how good a craftsman Lutyens (the architect) was at the details of house design. Just couldn't brief and superintend a builder properly.

Meanwhile, the gardens offer both terrific lengthy walks (Flannerpooch 2.0 adored them) - and truly interesting formal planting.

If you're in the area, well worth stopping off at. Certainly not worth a substantial detour. Except for Lutyens fans - and given his influence on much of Greater Great Britain (including our war graves worldwide and New Delhi), there ought to be more of them.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 12:44 PM
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Wow, thanks bilboburgler, Badbury Rings has quite a history!

Annhig, we did Wells, Dunster, north Devon a few years ago, unfortunately I don't think it will fit into this trip. Too bad as I've found we missed some nice gardens up there!

We'll have 1 full day near Sherborne, 6 full days in Portmellon, and 3 travel days with time for a stop or 2 (Great Fosters to Sherborne, Sherborne to Portmellon, and Portmellon back to Great Fosters)

Our first travel day when we drive from Great Fosters to Sherborne I'm favoring some places on the more southerly route. I think we could do Kingston Lacy first. The Gardens open at 10:30, and its about 1 hr 45 min from Great Fosters. Oh, and I can't forget Wimborne Minster church, and Badbury Rings if time, not sure they will work in. Afterwards, we hopefully will have enough time to do Athelhampton depending upon time, it looks like it's only 30 min from Kingston Lacy.

The full day near Sherborne I know we would like to go to Sherborne Abbey and Montacute. Sherborne Abbey opens at 9:00 so we can go there first and get an early start. Then Montacute. And if time after Montacute, maybe East Lambrook Manor Gardens?

When we leave Sherbourne headed to Portmellon I was thinking of stopping at Killerton, it's about 1 hr 30 min from our Sherborne B&B, and then 2 hrs to our apartment in Portmellon. Supposedly an "Ancient Trees Walk" and spring bulbs. I'm thinking we'll only plan one place for that day as we need to stop and get some supplies for the Apartment on the way to Portmellon.

The other "travel day" is when we leave the apartment in Portmellon and head back to Great Fosters. I'm thinking maybe Mottisfont. It's only an hour and 15 minutes from Great Fosters, and we do have dinner reservations that night, so if we stop somewhere closer to Egham, we would better be able to budget our time. Any other suggestions in this area?
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 12:50 PM
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Chartley, we have been to Knightshayes, LOVED it and would like to go back again, but at this point, I'm not finding the time. Will look into Wardour Castle, thanks.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 01:02 PM
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with all that on the go, I for one would not bother with C drogo. I know that flanner likes it 'cos of the Lutyens thing, but I've always found it ugly to look at, and it must have been draughty and uncomfortable to live in.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 03:44 PM
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Great Fosters...ah, the lovely memories! We've stayed there five different times, and it's an absolute gem.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 05:04 PM
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We are pretty excited about finding it!
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 05:01 AM
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annhig and flanner, I did Google exterior and interior pics of Drogo and I was surprised, it is interesting. But I think I'll wait until they unpack the boxes and get rid of the scaffolding..... assuming they can resolve the huge water problem!
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 09:56 AM
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I previously said that I would keep quiet about Castle Drogo. The reason is that it usually results in strongly-held opposing views.

Personally, I enjoy visiting stately homes that were built in late Victorian or early twentieth-century times, when there has been an attempt to combine modern conveniences with a large impressive building. The best example I have seen is Cragside, but that is in Northumberland so quite a detour for a visit to the West Country. Surprisingly, Cragside is seldom mentioned on Fodor's.
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 10:41 AM
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Probably because the US is such a "baby" in history compared to the UK, my husband and I love the older places!
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 01:34 PM
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How much time do you think we should allocate to visiting Sherborne Abbey and Montacute House? (gardens and house)

We are usually somewhat "slow tourists"
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Jan 24th, 2014, 04:07 PM
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wrenwood - I haven't see Sherborne Abbey but I would think at least an hour.

We are quite "quick tourists" but we spent about 2 hours at Montacute. Part of this however was because there was a group of school students having a lecture on the historical art in the house which we "earwigged" because the lecturer was so good.
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Jan 25th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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<< The full day near Sherborne I know we would like to go to Sherborne Abbey and Montacute. Sherborne Abbey opens at 9:00 so we can go there first and get an early start. Then Montacute. And if time after Montacute, maybe East Lambrook Manor Gardens >>
********I did add in East Lambrook Gardens, it's small and the owner said there are bulbs and Hellebores blooming. It will be nice to see Margery Fish's garden!
__________________________________________________ _____________________________

<< When we leave Sherbourne headed to Portmellon Apartment I was thinking of stopping at Killerton, it's about 1 hr 30 min from our Sherborne B&B, and then 2 hrs to our apartment in Portmellon. Supposedly an "Ancient Trees Walk" and spring bulbs. I'm thinking we'll only plan one place for that day as we need to stop and get some supplies for the Apartment on the way to Portmellon >>
*********I decided we would have enough time to go to Knightshayes first for a short walk around (we have been there before, but not in early spring) I bought a Royal Oak memberships so NT properties are free, so it won't cost us anything.

Thanks Chartley, it works out I think!
__________________________________________________ _____________________________

Then we will go to Killerton

Then a stop at Darts Farm (22 min from Killerton) to pick up some groceries and goodies etc for the apartment, and then to the apartment (1 hr 40 min drive)
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