History

Meet the family

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The obelisk

You can see the obelisk in the garden

You can see the obelisk in the garden

The pink granite needle was discovered on an island in the Nile by William Bankes in 1815. William was able to make out the names Ptolemy and Cleopatra among the mix of Greek and hieroglyphics on the obelisk. This was a vital first step in attempts to decipher the language of the Ancient Egyptians.

A tortuous journey

  • It would take seven years to transport the obelisk to Kingston Lacy
  • It fell into the Nile whilst being loaded onto a boat
  • It was also the object of a gun battle with rival Egyptologists
  • The arrival of the obelisk in England was greeted with huge excitement
  • A converted gun carriage was used to transport it to Kingston Lacy
  • The Duke of Wellington laid the foundation stone in 1827
  • 19 horses were needed to raise the obelisk upright

Before Kingston Lacy

You can still see the remains of the hill fort at Badbury Rings © Mike Harry

You can still see the remains of the hill fort at Badbury Rings

This beautiful area is steeped in history going back to before the Bankes family even arrived. Today you can walk in the footsteps of Neolithic warriors, Celtic tribes, a Roman emperor, Saxon warlords and medieval kings of England. Kingston Lacy may even be the site of King Arthur’s greatest battle.

After the Bankes family

Ralph Bankes donation also included parts of Studland and Corfe © James Dobson

Ralph Bankes donation also included parts of Studland and Corfe

Ralph Bankes gave the whole estate to the National Trust on his death in 1981. By then, the garden was largely a jungle and the house was suffering from sagging beams and a leaking roof. We began the massive job of restoring this house and opening it to the public for the very first time. Millions of people have now discovered the beauty of Kingston Lacy and its astonishing collections.

Visited by the famous

Prince Charles, President of the National Trust

Many famous people have visited Kingston Lacy including:

  • The Duke of Wellington
  • King Edward VII
  • Kaiser Wilhelm
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Prince Charles

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