Barbara Peacock MA, FRSA

WFASC, Church Cottage, Beauworth, Alresford
Hampshire SO24 OPA
Bookings & enquiries:
Tel: +44(0)1962 771579

THE PROGRAMME ~ Delight and Diversity: The Country Houses and Gardens of Dorset ~
June 11-17, 2023

Dorset is one of the most unchanged and rural of English counties Hidden in remote valleys lie enchanting mediaeval and Tudor gentry manor houses and elegant Georgian mansions, often still the homes of the descendants of the original builders. Some are key buildings in England’s architectural history. Our tour will focus on private houses of all periods, many with outstanding gardens

The county has a remarkable concentration of mediaeval and Tudor manor houses. Fiddleford Manor c.1380 has the finest mediaeval manor house interior in Dorset, whilst spectacularly sited Tudor Mapperton Hall has been as England’s finest manor house. Elizabethan Wolfeton Hall has remarkable Renaissance interiors, whilst battlemented Lulworth Castle is a fantasy Jacobean hunting lodge, built as a castle to entertain aristocracy and royalty. Forde Abbey is one of the most outstanding houses of the Commonwealth period, with magnificent plasterwork and woodwork. St Giles, Wimborne, magnificent ancestral home of the Earls of Shaftesbury, is of national importance. Its recent restoration has won many awards. Beautifully sited Creech Grange and Smedmore House have important 18th century interiors. Milton Abbey still retains its splendid 15th century Abbots’s Hall, whilst in the late 18th-century the abbey buildings were remodelled to form a grand Georgian country house. The enchanting neighbouring thatched model village of Milton Abbas was created by ‘Capability’ Brown. Kingston Lacy has an outstanding collection of paintings and furniture whilst Minterne (1904-6), a sophisticated Arts and Crafts house, brings us into the 20th century.

Important gardens include the Italianate Edwardian gardens of Mapperton (Garden of the Year award 2020), the beautiful gardens of Forde Abbey, the Georgian landscape of St Giles, the Victorian gardens of Kingston Lacy, the Himalayan gardens of Minterne and Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe’s magical garden of Shute House. Milton Abbey and Lulworth Castle are set in magnificent ‘Capability’ Brown parks.

Tour Leader

The tour will be led by Barbara Peacock MA FRSA, founder and director of the long-established Wessex Fine Art Study Tours. Barbara has led numerous successful tours in Britain and overseas. Her particular interest is the country house and its associated historic landscape. She lectures internationally for organisations such as the National Trust, the Art Fund and the Arts Society and is a tour leader for Art Pursuits Abroad.

Dr Timothy Connor FSA, architectural historian, specialising in the historic buildings of Dorset, will give an evening lecture and lead the tour of Wolfeton.

The Full Programme

 Download the brochure for full details of the daily schedule, visits, costs, how to book and terms and conditions.


We shall all be based at the charming Jacobean Plumber Manor Hotel****, beautifully situated in the countryside near Sturminster Newton, North Dorset. The rooms are large and stylishly decorated and are surrounded by beautiful gardens; most have views. The Hotel is listed in the Good Food and Good Hotel Guides. See

Booking and Fees

The 7-day tour, limited to 22 participants, will cost £2695 per person in a twin-bedded or double room, £350 single supplement. This will include accommodation B/B/D for 6 nights, most lunches, some coffees or teas, all coach transport, entrance fees and gratuities, the services of the lecturers and an illustrated course booklet.

A £300 deposit guarantees your place on the tour, with the balance of the course fee payable by 15 April, 2023.


The nearest station is Gillingham on the direct line from Waterloo, 11 miles from Plumber Manor. The coach will return participants to the station at the end of the tour. The tour will begin with registration and tea in the mid-afternoon of Sunday June 11, 2023.

Terms and Conditions

Cancellation charges are as follows:
56 days or more before start of course - loss of deposit
55 - 43 days before start of course - 50% of the total
42 - 29 days before start of course - 60% of the total
28 - 22 days before start of course - 85% of the total
21 - 0 days before start of course - 100% of the total
It is a condition of booking that you arrange travel insurance to protect yourself against loss. In the unlikely event of cancellation by WFASC we undertake to refund you in full within 14 days all monies paid to us in course fees. In the case of force majeure no refunds can be made.