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Museums, Houses & Gardens

Dorset has a long and proud tradition of large estates and grand country houses and gardens. Local families have carefully preserved these over the centuries. In the modern era these families have had to find new means of survival and many of these houses are now open to the public.

The National Trust has a good range of interesting historic houses, including Thomas Hardy's and Lawrence of Arabia's original homes, as well as spectacular landscapes including a number on the fossil filled Jurassic Coast.

Our Dorset Coastal Cottages are in delightful rural/village locations along the Jurassic coastal area; the age of many will give you a day-to-day environment on your holiday sympathetic to the great houses, Athelhampton House and the sub tropical gardens at Abbotsbury being two wonderful examples.

Being a very historic county Dorset naturally has a deep reservoir of local stories to tell in its many museums. From the prehistoric era with museums for fossils and dinosaurs through to stone and bronze age finds to complement the earthworks, castles (Maiden Castle a spectacular example) and tumuli in the countryside. The Roman era is also well represented, mainly in the County Museum in Dorchester.


Please note: Dorset Coastal Cottages cannot be responsible for the content of external websites

Bovington Tank Museum, Isle of Purbeck

Displaying over 300 military vehicles from World War 1 to the modern day, The Bovington Tank Museum is a fantastic and fascinating day out for the whole family.

Don't miss the special events here where the tank driving displays draw large crowds.

The museum is in Purbeck, near Wool. Bookings are advised for special events such as Tankfest!

Tel: 01929 462 359
Bovington Tank Museum, Isle of Purbeck

Thomas Hardy's Cottage, Near Dorchester

Set in the heart of Puddletown Forest Hardy's Cottage is a must see for literary lovers. Thomas Hardy was born in this delightful thatch cottage and wrote his early novels here.

His cottage and his later residence in Dorchester, Max Gate are operated by the National Trust and open five days a week until October 30th.

Tel: 01305 262 366
Thomas Hardy

Nothe Fort, Weymouth/Portland

Nothe Fort in Weymouth was the viewing area for the sailing events of the 2012 Olympic Games. Unsurprisingly it has become one of Weymouth's main attractions as it offers a combination of rich military history combined with stunning views out over Weymouth and out to Portland.

"Pirates at the Fort" over Easter week is very popular with children.

Tel: 01305 766 626
Nothe Fort, Weymouth/Portland

Lulworth Castle & Park

Built as a hunting lodge in the 17th century this beautiful imposing castle lies a few mile east of Lulworth Cove.

The castle and the park host all kinds of events throughout the year, from wedding fairs to Camp Bestival. During the summer holidays there are frequently special events for kids in the park.

Tel: 01929 400 352
Lulworth Castle & Park

Corfe Castle, Isle of Purbeck

Cared for and run by The National Trust, Corfe Castle is one of Britain's most iconic survivors of the English Civil war and a must see for any first time visitor to Dorset.

Special Events are held in Corfe Castle's grounds throughout the year, with many child friendly options during school holidays.

Tel: 01929 481 294
Corfe Castle, Isle of Purbeck

Mapperton Gardens & House, Beaminster

Mapperton, located near Beaminster is a must for any ornate garden lover.

Mapperton has a series of gardens specifically designed to suit and blend in with the beautiful rolling hills in which the house is set. The area in which the house resides is classified as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Tel: 01308 862 645
Mapperton Gardens & House, Beaminster

Durlston Country Park, Swanage

Durlston is a castle overlooking Swanage and The Old Harry Rocks, with magnificent grounds to explore. Durlston is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Nature Reserve... and fantastic day out!

Visit the fantastic new restaurant "Seventh Wave" during your visit, or book a table for dinner.

Tel: 01929 424 443
Durlston Country Park, Swanage

Sherborne Castle, North Dorset

Sherborne Castle, in north Dorset, was built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594 and its amazing 42 acres of garden were landscaped by Capability Brown.

The spectacular castle and grounds are open to visitors from April to the end of October. Whilst there the town is also fascinating with a huge abbey and old castle ruins.

Tel: 01935 812 072
Sherborne Castle, North Dorset
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