The Bankes family home

Fireplace at Kingston Lacy, Dorset.

Step inside the home of one of the most powerful families of Dorset and discover the history of Kingston Lacy and the flamboyant Bankes family who owned vast swathes of Dorset for over 400 years. From fighting the forces of Oliver Cromwell, to gathering one of the world’s largest collections of ancient Egyptian artefacts, the Bankes have a colourful past.

 

House opening 2019

The house is open by timed entry ticket. You can book your timed ticket online, up to 24 hours in advance via our what's on page, and bring a printed or mobile version with you. Alternatvely please phone 0344 249 1895.

If you haven't had a chance to prebook online, most of the timed tickets for the house will be issued on the day on a first come first served basis from Visitor Reception.

We've pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions about timed tickets and how they work. Click here to find out more.

There is a storage facility for bags and pushchairs before you enter the house. This is located near the shop and detailed on your welcome map from Visitor Reception. Please leave your bags, loose items in the lockers and pushchairs in the spaces provided.

On rare occasions it may be necessary to close rooms within the house for conservation purposes. If there is something in particular you wish to see during your visit we advise you to phone ahead to ensure that it will be available at the time of your trip. 

Outstanding collection of paintings 

Kingston Lacy is home to one of the finest private collections of paintings in Britain with works by Rubens Van Dyck, Tintoretto, Titian and Brueghel. See the entrance hall and saloon with fresh eyes as we recreate the rooms as William John Bankes had imagined. 

The Judgement of Solomon is one of the most important paintings in the collection
The dining room at Kingston Lacy in Dorset
The Judgement of Solomon is one of the most important paintings in the collection

Treasures from ancient Egypt

Step back thousands of years and discover the largest private display of Egyptian relics in the UK. Look out for bronze cats, cockerels, scarab beetles and 25 ‘stelae’ (tomb inscriptions) from Deir el-Medina – all mementoes from William John Bankes’ incredible journey through Egypt in 1818.

Man with offerings of ducks wallpainting, part of William Bankes' Egyptian collection at Kingston Lacy
Man with offerings of ducks wallpainting, part of William Bankes' Egyptian collection at Kingston Lacy
Man with offerings of ducks wallpainting, part of William Bankes' Egyptian collection at Kingston Lacy

A virtual tour

Don’t miss our interactive digital tour of Kingston Lacy in the Egyptian Room. Take control of the camera to explore all the nooks and crannies of the house and see what each room has to offer.

A taste of Italy

With its marble floors and vaulted ceiling, stepping into the Loggia is like being whisked away to a flamboyant Italian palace. Gaze out over the parterre and up through the Cedar avenue or admire the statues of King Charles 1st and the family’s ancestor ‘Brave Dame Mary’ Bankes who fiercely defended Corfe Castle against a roundhead siege.

Restored to new

Spot the keys to Corfe Castle over the mantlepiece in the library, the old home of the Bankes family, destroyed in the flames of war. Look up for the beautiful ceiling fresco, now restored to pride of place after a 20 year absence, thanks to generous public donations - the first time a detached fresco has ever been restored.

Work taking place to restore the Guido Reni painting Separation of Day and Night c1600, on the ceiling of the Library
Guido Reni painting Separation of Day and Night c1600, on the ceiling of the Library at Kingston Lacy, Dorset
Work taking place to restore the Guido Reni painting Separation of Day and Night c1600, on the ceiling of the Library

A tented bedroom

Upstairs you can see one of the last surviving ‘tent rooms’ in Europe, painted to resemble the military campaign tents that Napoleon lived in as he waged his wars across Europe. (These rooms are not available to view from November through to March).

The saloon at Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy picture list

This guide will show you what paintings are in each room. It also gives you an excellent study of the context of the collection within the history of the Bankes family at Kingston Lacy.