Georgian history of the Holnicote Estate
Holnicote Estate is a vast area of land, home to moorland, beaches, woodland, charming villages as well as 14 tenant farms and 168 cottages. Its modern history begins in the 18th century when the estate fell into the hands of the Acland family and, two centuries later, large parts of Holnicote land was gradually trusted to the care of the National Trust.
A 18th-century marriage at Holnicote
The Acland family took up the Holnicote Estate in the 1700s, when the heiress of Holnicote Elizabeth Dyke married Sir Thomas Acland. Combining their surnames to become Dyke Acland, the estate became their second home and stayed in the family for nearly 200 years. The family came here to hunt and kennels were built on the estate for the North Devon Staghounds.
Exmoor in the 20th century
In 1917, the Acland family leased 3,237 hectares (8,000 acres) of moorland to the Trust for 500 years, which included Dunkery Beacon, the valley of Horner, parts of North Hill and moorland on Winsford Hill. This was the largest area of land the Trust managed at the time and the first time any part of Exmoor was conserved for the nation.
Holnicote Estate donated
Then in 1932, the first bit of Holnicote land was donated to the Trust: 348 hectares (860 acres) of Dunkery Hill. In 1935, the cairn was built on top of the Bronze Age burial mound at Dunkery Beacon, commemorating the moment another part of Dunkery Hill was gifted to the Trust.
Less than a decade later, in 1944, Sir Richard Dyke Acland gifted another 3,985 hectares (9,848 acres), as well as the Killerton Estate in Devon. It was his wish that the land be enjoyed by everyone not just the landowner and, to date, this is one of the largest donations of land given to the Trust. Today, the Trust continues to care for 4,046 hectares (10,000 acres) of Exmoor.
Holnicote Estate has something for everyone, from its wild moorland and shingle beaches to ancient woodland and charming villages. Plus, keep an eye out for its resident red deer.
Discover Horner Wood, one of the largest ancient oak woods in Britain. Walk, ride or cycle through this National Nature Reserve which is bursting with wildlife.
A peaceful coastal hamlet on the edge of the Holnicote Estate, with distinctive thatched cottages.
A timeless rural landscape of thatched cottages, nestled in the vale of the Holnicote Estate.
Discover a thousand years of history at Dunster Castle. Follow its journey from a Middle Ages fortress to a Victorian family home.
Once home to famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his family, discover how three years in this humble cottage were the most productive and destructive of their lives.