Life and death at Kingston Lacy

This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.

Between 1856 and 1869 the Kingston Lacy estate was dogged by a series of premature deaths.

George Bankes, Edmund and his oldest son Henry all died within a short time span. The younger son of Edmund, Walter succeeded in 1869 and brought stability to the estate for the next 35 years.

An avid horseman, huntsman and gardener, Walter oversaw many changes to the house and estate, notably a new stable block in 1880, the kitchen gardens and Home Farm.

In 1885 he installed electricity at the house and in 1889 installed an internal telephone system, both then very novel Victorian inventions.

The golden 'Henrietta years'

In 1897, at the age of 44, Dorset’s most eligible bachelor, Walter, finally married.  His wife was the famous beauty, Henrietta Jenny Fraser and together they had three children, Daphne, Viola and Ralph.

Their marriage was sadly cut short when, in 1904, Walter died. Henrietta was courted by several neighbours but never remarried, devoting herself to keeping the estate in order for her son Ralph to inherit.

During her tenure, Kingston Lacy flourished, receiving visits from King Edward VII, Kaiser Wilhelm II and the future Queen Mary.

Building St Stephen's Church

Working with her land agent Alfred Lodder, she supervised many improvements to the wider estate, including St. Stephen’s Church at Pamphill and new Entrance lodges.

Within the house itself, the drawing room and White Bedroom at Kingston Lacy reflect the fashion and taste of Henrietta during the 'Belle Époque' of the Edwardian period.

In 1923, her son Ralph inherited the estate and Henrietta spent much of her time living in the manor at Studland or in Brook Street, London until her death in 1953.