15. Dorset – Thursday 6 September

Cranborne Manor - Tour 15

Cranborne Manor

Cranborne Manor - Tour 15

Cranborne Manor

Cranborne Manor, Cranborne
The Viscount Cranborne

In the reign of King John, Cranborne was a royal hunting lodge which, in a ruinous state, was given to Robert Cecil by a grateful James I. In the 1610s Cecil rebuilt the house, adding loggias to the north and south fronts, though the handsome library wing is slightly later. He employed John Tradescant and Mountain Jennings to design a formal garden around the house. The Cecils then abandoned Cranborne until the 1860s when Lord Salisbury took the house back in hand from two tenant farmers and restored the house. Since then successive generations have lavished affection on both house and garden; in the 1960s Lady Salisbury, a great gardener, planted box parterres, a white garden and extensive borders filled with perennials. The garden has been simplified and updated by the current Lady Salisbury and now is in the charge of her daughter, Georgiana Campbell, who will take us on a private tour of the garden, giving us the history of the manor and explaining the changes that she is making to this enchanting and very personal family garden.

St Giles House - Tour 15

St Giles House

St Giles House, Wimborne St Giles
The Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury

The origin of St Giles House was a medieval manor which was acquired by the Ashley family in the mid 15th century. A Tudor building was extensively rebuilt by the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury in the 1650s and modified in the 1740s by Henry Flitcroft. The house suffered in the 20th century, but has been rescued and magnificently restored by the current Lord Shaftesbury who inherited in 2005. What Lord Shaftesbury has achieved in a short space of time is nothing short of remarkable. Most of the 18th century rooms have been fully restored, a contemporary entrance has been added to the north front of the house, a garden, part formal, part wild-flower meadows has been created and, in the park, the main avenue replanted, the lake dredged and the wonderful shell grotto restored. Probably the most astonishing room in the house is the Great Dining Room, where we will have lunch. Here a startling approach has been taken to the restoration, which has resulted in a visually thrilling space. Most importantly, the house is once again lived in by Lord Shaftesbury, who will take us around the house.