Unlocking the Bankes archive
The Bankes family have lived in Dorset at Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy since the 17th century, actively participating in 350 years of eventful history. In 1981, when Ralph Bankes died, he left the 16,000 acre estate to the National Trust; it was the largest single gift that the Trust has received to date.
The Bankes estate archives were placed for safe keeping at Dorset History Centre. We know that the archive contains manorial, legal and estate records, but also numerous personal items (letters, diaries, photographs and drawings) that will give a fascinating insight into the lives of the Bankes family but also of the people who worked for them and lived on their estates, particularly from the 17th century onwards. There are some 800 boxes of documents and we are just beginning to explore what they contain.