Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne in East Dorset, has a bit of an ancestral connection for me, although sadly not with the wealthy Bankes family, who owned the great house for more than 300 years.
However, my 3-great grandfather Neri POOLE is recorded in the J G Harrod’s & Co Postal & Commercial Directory 1865 for Wimborne Minster as “Woodman Kingston Lacy” – I suppose this could have been anywhere on the 8,000 acre estate.
Neri was a forester and gardener all his life and lived at Holt near Wimborne at the time he was working at Kingston Lacy. By this time the 17th century house had already been extensively remodelled (by William John Bankes, an Egyptologist and adventurer who died in 1855).
Head of the family in Neri’s time was Walter Ralph Bankes (1853-1904), who was NOT one of the most famous scions of the dynasty. But I still wonder if Neri ever spoke to him (while tugging his forelock)…
Today Kingston Lacy is run by the National Trust. I visited on a Monday, when the house, noted for its lavish interiors, was closed. So I didn’t see the paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Tintoretto and the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK.
I knew in advance the house wouldn’t be open – it’s also closed on Tuesdays. But I still feel there must be some way such attractions could be open every day in summer, as people do take their holidays on Mondays and Tuesday, too!
Similarly the other day I had to point out to a couple of visitors to Cardiff that the National Museum was closed as it was a Monday. It was their only day in the city, so they were naturally disappointed they would miss out on Cardiff’s collection of French Impressionist art.
Although I wasn’t able to enter the house, I did get to walk through the gardens and take lots of pictures. It was a very hot sunny day, so after taking the long walk to the kitchen gardens, we had no energy left to walk the woods where perhaps Neri would have worked.
At Kingston Lacy we saw part of the fine herd of North Devon cattle, which we had also seen earlier that morning at the Iron Age hillfort of Badbury Rings, also part of the Bankes estate. See my wildflower scramble at Badbury Rings here…