Meet the family
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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
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 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.