Secret Places in DorsetPosted: 2010-07-20
I love Dorset; its home to some fantastic historic and scenic sites, including Athelhampton House, Kingston Lacy, and Corfe Castle, to name only a few popular places to visit. But there are hidden gems beyond the big-name attractions. Here are 5 of the best 'Secret Places' in Dorset. Remember, these are only places I've personally been to, so there are undoubtedly many more places out there for you to discover!
- Wolfeton House - just north of Dorchester, in water meadows on the edge of Charminster, stands this Elizabethan manor house approached through a pair of mismatched medieval gatehouse towers. The interiors have fantastically carved doorways and plasterwork ceilings, and a decorated fireplace possibly inspired by Sir Walter Raleigh.
- Chettle House - a lovely 18th-century manor house, redesigned by Thomas Archer for the Chafin family. Archer's tour-de-force is the wonderful central staircase, with two semi-circular wings that curve around to meet at a landing high above the hall below.
- Milton Abbey and Milton Abbas - Beside the old stately home of Milton Abbey (now a prominent school) stands the fabulous medieval church (also called Milton Abbey). The church is wonderfully light and spacious, with fantastic vaulting. It possesses an unusual hanging pyx. Even more impressive is the setting in a bowl of wooded hills. Simply magical! The nearby village of Milton Abbas was one of the first examples of urban planning; it was created by Joseph Damer, lord of the manor, who wanted more privacy for his house at Milton Abbey. So he pulled down the old village and built a new one well away from the manor house. Its as pretty as a postcard, and set in a lovely wooded spot.
- Mupe Bay petrified forest and rocks - if you walk east along the coast past the famous natural arch of Durdle Door, past Lulworth Cove, you will come to the fascinating remains of a petrified forest. If you go just a bit further you'll reach Mupe Rocks, with long ridges of knife-sharp rocks jutting into the bay. Come at sunrise, or at sunset, for a sight that you will never forget.
- Bere Regis church - the medieval church of Bere Regis has a fabulous 15th century carved and painted nave roof, with life-size figures of the 12 apostles leaning out over the nave. There are also painted and gilded roof bosses, including one of Cardinal Morton, a native of the area, who is thought to have paid for the roof.