The post war decline of Kingston Lacy

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In 1923, at the tender age of 21, Ralph Bankes inherited the Kingston Lacy estate from his mother, Henrietta.

His coming of age was celebrated in typical fashion, with a lavish garden party on the lawns at Kingston Lacy on 14 July 1923.

In 1935, Ralph married Hilary Strickland-Constable, from an old Yorkshire family.  They had two children: John born in 1937 and Mary in 1940.

During the Second World War (1939-45) Ralph served in the Royal Navy and was posted to Portsmouth. By 1942 the whole family were living with him in rented accommodation in Fareham.

The decline of Kingston Lacy

In 1966, Hilary lost her long battle with Multiple Sclerosis and died.

Ralph, much like his father, was to display a somewhat solitary streak and after 1945, Kingston Lacy subsided into tranquil decay.

It became one of the most private houses in England and its treasures were rarely seen, until the whole estate was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1981 upon the death of Ralph Bankes.