1. Dorset – Wednesday 20 May

The Old Rectory Pulham Tour 1

The Old Rectory, Pulham

The Old Rectory, Pulham
Mr and Mrs Nick Elliott

The Old Rectory is a delicious castellated gothick house standing across the fields from its church and settled very comfortably into the north Dorset countryside. The terrace, on the east side of the house, is liberally planted in many shades of purple and white. A lawn, flanked very stylishly by two avenues of yew pyramids and formal box beds, with Portuguese laurel umbrellas under-planted with Santolina, runs down to a ha-ha and the expansive view of Bulbarrow Hill and the Dorset Downs. Yew hedges enclose the garden to the south of the house and embrace circular herbaceous borders which are planted for a long flowering season, but peak in July. Further from the house the garden becomes less formal, with a bog garden filled with May-flowering Primulas and Iris and two woodland gardens where native trees are planted with exotics and flowering shrubs.

Minterne, Minterne Magna
The Lord and Lady Digby

The present house at Minterne, described by Pevsner as a “beautifully sophisticated design”, was the rather eccentric creation of the Arts and Crafts architect, Leonard Stokes and was built between 1904-6 to replace an existing house, built by the Churchill family, which was riddled with dry rot. Admiral Robert Digby acquired the house in the middle of the 18th century and began to landscape the valley around it with (free) advice from Capability Brown, who was working for Digby’s brother at Sherborne Castle. He planted trees in profusion and formed the lakes and cascades from the existing stream. However, a spur of greensand lying to the south of the house, enabled later Digbys to plant the magnificent 27-acre woodland garden, which, with its specimen trees, Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas, should be at its peak in mid-May. We will have lunch in the house and a tour of the interior with Henry Digby.