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Important Dorset Gardens open to the Public

The following is a selection of Dorset 's parks & gardens which are either of national importance [and on the English Heritage Register] or of local importance [in the view of the DGT].

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Abbotsbury Gardens
Abbotsbury Gardens



Established in 1765 by the first Countess of Ilchester as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle. Developed since then into a magnificent 20 acres of rare and exotic plants from all over the world. Many of these plants were first introductions, brought to this country by the planting descendants of the Countess.
Open all year except over Christmas and New Year.







ATHELHAMPTON, Puddletown Grade I
Stone built house dates from 1485.further building and modification in C17, C18, C19 & C20' Series of formal gardens designed by Inigo Thomas in 1891 with further, partially implemented , planting plans by Thomas Mawson, c.1904. Restoration and addition to gardens by Sir Robert Cooke in 1960s and 70s. Planting advice and specimens from Sir Harold Hillier in 1960s. Open throughout the year. Times shown on the website.







Alum Chine Tropical Gardens 1938

Alum Chine Tropical Gardens
Cliff-side gardens laid out with tropical planting in the early C20 and replanted in 1996
Unrestricted public access

Boscombe Gardens 1900

Boscombe Chine Gardens
Laid out by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff 1868- 71. Lottery funded restoration project 2004 – 7 Formal gardens, games court, mini golf and entrance lodge at north end leading, under the chine bridge to a tree lined walk to the shoreline.
Unrestricted public access

Fisherman’s Walk
Early C20 linear woodland park with bandstand leading to a modern rose garden surrounding a sunken pond and views of the sea. Restored in 1996 - 7.
Unrestricted public access

Meyrick Park
Public open space with golf course, bowling green, tennis courts, recreation ground and a pavilion in a parkland setting. Gifted to the town by Sir George Meyrick and the Talbot estate in 1883 and laid out by the Bournemouth Improvement Commissioners. Opened in 1894. Unrestricted public access Russell Cotes Museum Garden Town centre Cliffside garden laid out to complement the Villa by J. Foggerty in 1897. Recently restored. Includes Japanese features, an ivy-clad tunnel grotto of vitrified clay, and a rose walk.
Unrestricted public access

Talbot Village
Model village laid out 1850 - 1870 by Georgina and Marianne Talbot, but area now much reduced. Cottages with substantial gardens, almshouses, a church and a school. Originally surrounded by more extensive pinewoods and containing five farms. Still in trust.
Access limited

Central Gardens circa 1900

Upper, Central and Lower Pleasure Gardens Grade II*
Mid C 19 ornamental public gardens with C20 additions following the Bourne stream from Coy pond to the coast. Lower gardens laid out mid C 19 by Decimus Burton. Large early C20 rockery and cascade. Upper and Central gardens laid out late C 19 by the Bournemouth Improvement Commissioners
Unrestricted public access




Wimborne Road Cemetery

Wimborne Road Cemetery Grade II*
Late C 19 urban cemetery laid out by Christopher Crabbe Creek with a striking planting of evergreens. A mature Monkey Puzzle Avenue, and a remarkable variety of late C 19 and early C20 funerary sculpture.
Unrestricted public access












Early C20 formal gardens designed by Thomas Mawson and planted to a scheme by Gertrude Jekyll, together with C18 pleasure grounds and parkland.
Access limited















CHANTMARLE, Frome St Quintin Grade II*
House dating from C13, enlarged 1612 Early C20 terraced and water gardens created post 1910 by Inigo Thomas. Chantmarle is a operated as a wedding venue and there is no routine public access, but it may be possible to arrange a visit. See website for details.






Early C20 formal and informal series of gardens forming a circuit, possibly conceived as a tourist attraction, in a variety of styles inspired by different historical periods and geographical regions.

Fine views over Poole Harbour. Original house demolished Poole's only English Heritage Listed Garden.
Open seven days a week. Winter 10am- 4pm: Summer 9am-6pm






Late C19 amenity park with formal bedding in a landscape by William Golding and planting by Veitch of Exeter. 1880 nurseryman's house and greenhouses. Bandstand 1898 and ornamental clock presented by Charles Hanford 1905. Extensive refurbishment 2006-7.
Unrestricted public access



A series of early C18 public tree lined walks laid out on the
course of the Roman Town Walls with statuary by E. Frink
commemorating religious martyrs over the centuries.
Unrestricted public access

Grade II
Durlston circa 1900 Late C19 landscape with stone lined carriage drives laid out by George Burt from 1880 around Durlston Castle. This folly was designed as a restaurant and as a focal point for a cliff top development of villas which, in fact, were never built. Little remains of the exotic planting along the coastal path above Durlston Bay which constitutes the EH listed site.

A 40 ton stone Globe and other stone features were designed to educate visitors.

This area has since 1971 been part of Durlston Country Park, 280 acres owned and managed by Dorset County Council
Public access. Car park. restaurant and Visitors Centre - which also covers the eastern Jurassic Coast





30 acres of gardens with a cascade of ponds, including the highest powered fountain in England, surround this 12th Century former monastery. Herbaceous borders, Bog Garden, Rockery, mature Arboretum and working walled kitchen garden. Plantings and landscaping date from early 18th Century.
Gardens open daily








KINGSTON LACY, Wimborne Grade II
C17 mansion restored by Sir Charles Barry 1835-9. Evidence of C17 and early C18 plantations and avenues. Early C19 c.3.5km beech avenue, formal gardens with obelisk from Egypt. Late C19 fernery and early C20 Japanese garden newly restored.Gardens open mid-March – end Oct, weekends in winter, and special openings in February for the snowdrops. National Trust www.nationaltrust.org.uk






C18 Mansion with contemporary parkland and pleasure gardens. Estate purchased 1914 by Sir Cecil Hanbury, whose father created La Mortola in Italy. The formal gardens consist of a matrix of small gardens, each with its own theme. Lakeside walks and a delightful walled garden. National Collections of Penstemon and Salvia.
Garden and Animal Park open daily 10am-5.30pm Jan 5th to Dec 18th (2015).




Castle built as a hunting lodge with extensive deer park, Archaeological remains of extensive and complex C17 formal gardens. Possibly England’s earliest baroque garden. C17 walled kitchen garden survives. Estate in continuous occupation by the Weld family since 1641. C19 landscaping with lake c1850 with the Fort, a folly, on its NW shore. Open most days throughout the year (but not normally Sats); see website for details of times and prices.


MAPPERTON, Beaminster Grade II*
House dates from C16, enlarged early to mid C17 and partly remodelled mid C18. Formal gardens created in valley to East of house by Mrs Labouchere in 1927, modified since 1955. Three terraces with 1960s orangery, topiary yews, pergola and lily pond leading to less formal area planted with ornamental shrubs and fine views over the landscape. C17 summer house and fishponds. Open daily [exc Sts] March 1 – Oct 31 11am-5pm




MILTON ABBEY, Milton Abbas Grade II*
Former C14 abbey incorporated into Gothick mansion house for 1st Baron Milton by William Chambers and James Wyatt. Restoration 1859 by Sir Gilbert Scott. Capability Brown landscaped park in 1763 and created lake on site of former village. Present model village 1774. St. Catherine's Chapel C12 and Gothick folly 1811.
Milton Abbey is a school and access is limited.


MIINTERNE, Minterne Magna Grade II
On site of earlier house, C18 landscape created by Admiral Robert Digby in the manner of Capability Brown who was working at Sherborne Castle at the time. Gardens laid out in a horseshoe overlooking valley with lakes and cascade. Late C19 rhododendron and azalea collection from Hooker's expedition. Early C20 trees and shrubs introduced from Wilson, Forrest, Rock, Farrer and Kingdom Ward expeditions to the Himalayas.
Open 10am - 6pm daily, March 1st to October 31st


A mid C19 Burial Board cemetery laid out by the Bournemouth architect C Crabbe Creeke. Retains its C19 path pattern and much of the structural planting as recorded in the OS map of 1890.
Unrestricted public access


Late C19 amenity park given by Lord Wimborne with large ponds and salt water lagoon. Laid out to a design by Borough Surveyor, John Elford, with landscaping by Veitch of Exeter. 1930's recreational facilities. Formal bedding. c45 ha.
Unrestricted public access