Meet Carry, Gerry, Betty and Berry

Tortoise at the Kingston Lacy estate in Dorset

There are some exciting new arrivals at Kingston Lacy. Three female spur-thighed tortoises and one female Hermann’s will be residing at the property over the summer, from June until September. The tortoises have been loaned to Kingston Lacy by the British Chelonia Group who advise on the care and conservation of tortoises, terrapins and turtles.

The interest in tortoises at Kingston Lacy stems from family member William John Bankes. William John was an intrepid explorer who spent a lot of his time abroad. Much of the house collection is attributed to William John’s style and travels.

Bernie King, Assistant House Steward says of William John Bankes: ‘William was very keen on tortoises from an early age. When he transformed Kingston Lacy into an Italian palazzo he incorporated tortoises into many of his designs, from torchères and bronzes in the saloon to bases for garden ornaments. He famously carried a tortoise in his bag to Paris so Baron Carlo Marochetti could make an accurate model prior to casting the bronzes for the garden.’

The four tortoises are varying ages. The eldest, Berry, is between 70 and 80 years old and the youngest are Carry and Gerry, who are both 40 years old. The Hermann’s tortoise Betty, who was previously with a family for over 40 years, is 50 years old.

Is it dinner time yet?
Tortoise at the Kingston Lacy estate in Dorset

The Chairperson of the British Chelonia Group, Henny Fenwick says: ‘it’s a fantastic idea that Kingston Lacy are reinstating tortoises back to the estate after over 150 years. It is a marvellous opportunity for people to see these fascinating creatures.’

Visitors can come say hello to the tortoises daily from 10am till 4pm until September. The grounds are open from 10am till 6pm. The tortoises are located in the glasshouse on the far side of the fernery wall. You can share you're pictures with us on social media with #KLTortoises.