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Minterne Gardens and House

South Front by Chris Downer courtesy Geograph Minterne House, home to the 12th Lord Digby, has been the home of the Churchill and Digby families for 350 years. The original house was rebuilt in 1905 by Leonard Stokes. It has a large drawing room with bow windows, a dining room that seats 50, and an elaborate hall with carved wooden balconies.

North Front by Chris Downer courtesy Geograph Winchester College rented the first house in 1660 to the original Sir Winston Churchill, who left it to his younger son Charles. His oldest son was the duke of Marlborough whose house was Blenheim palace. After Charles and his wife died the house and contents were sold to Robert Digby. The contents include Churchill tapestries, pictures, and furniture.

Other famous owners/residents include Sir Everard Digby, the infamous Guy Fawkes plotter, who was hung, drawn and quartered, and Pamela Harriman, American Ambassador to Paris, sister of the present lord Digby. The house also gained fame being used as a setting for a film, The Woodlanders, based on the Thomas Hardy novel. The house appeared in the movie, Tom Jones and in several television productions.

Minterne House grounds by Nigel Freeman courtesy Geograph Minterne House sits in a 1300 acre valley. Its grounds were landscaped in the 1700s along the lines of ‘Capability’ Brown. Sitting below the house, the gardens form a horseshoe. Waterfalls, lakes, and streams enhance the view.

Minterne House garden by Chris Downer courtesy Geograph In the gardens are a collection of Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas, spring bulbs, cherries, maples, and a number of rare trees. Minterne garden is particularly colourful in the autumn. In the spring the magnolia campbelli plants are in bloom along with spring flowering bulbs. The flowering cherries originated in Japan. In late May and early June the pocket handkerchief trees are noteworthy. The blossoms of primulas and other water loving plants appear at this time. There are walks lined with palm trees, large rhododendrons, cedar, and beech trees.

Visitor Information

Minterne Gardens and House
Minterne Magna
Dorchester, Dorset
Tel. 01308 862645
Open: gardens, mid Feb-first week Nov, 10am-6pm; house for organized parties only
Historic Houses Association Member; free parking; picnic areas
Web: Minterne House and Gardens

Photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Minterne House garden, exterior—north front and south front—by Chris Downer;
Minterne House grounds by Nigel Freeman

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Mapperton House
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Sherborne Almshouse of SS John
Sherborne Abbey
Thomas Hardy’s Dorset
Shaftesbury
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Portland Bill Lighthouse
Lulworth Castle and Park
Hambledon Hill
Minterne Gardens and House
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