Kingston Lacy is a lavish Italianate palace in the heart of Dorset.
In the mid 19th century, the explorer, adventurer and collector William John Bankes set about embellishing and transforming his 17th-century family home, creating a series of lavish interiors suitable for a growing art collection. But amid the grandeur there are some surprisingly intimate and quirky details, such as family souvenirs and an 'I owe you' note from a king.
Outside is a large estate, including an Iron Age hill fort, 40 acres of formal gardens, a play area, woodland, a Victorian fernery and a Japanese Garden with an authentic tea house.
The Bankes family's desire to surround themselves with only the finest art and sculpture resulted in an internationally acclaimed art collection of around 200 pictures, including paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Lely, Titian, Jan Brueghel and Tintoretto. The Egyptian Room houses the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK.