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Heritage Open Days Highlights in Dorset

In this, the third in our series of guides to the 2015 Heritage Open Days, we take a look at the County of Dorset, a place indelibly linked with the poetry of Thomas Hardy, the spectacular cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and the peculiar Dorset Knob Throwing Contest (yes, really).

But Dorset also has a rich architectural heritage, one which encompasses everything from the 1000 year old Corfe Castle to the mock Italian Palace stylings of Kingston Lacy. And it’s this rich legacy that takes centre stage during the upcoming Heritage Open Days running from 10 to 13 September 2015. With a total of 50 events listed for the County, below we provide just the merest soupçon of what you can expect during the weekend.

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

Morning Room Ceiling. Photo supplied by Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum

In 1901, hotelier Merton Russell-Cotes gave his wife the dream of a cliff-top house overlooking the sea in Bournemouth. 

Built in the Art Nouveau style, they filled the House with a stunning collection of decorative objects collected during their travels across the globe but especially Japan. Meanwhile, they adorned the walls with an impressive collection of British art. The couple gave the house and its collections to the people of Bournemouth in 1907. Since then the house has been run as an  Art Gallery and Museum

During the Heritage Open Days, there will be a series of walking tours. The Museum and Gallery’s curator will also provide guests with access to exclusive areas of the gallery as well as telling the wonderful story of Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes. This event is only available if booked and places are to be allocated by ballot via the Dorset Architectural Heritage Week Booking Office, so get in quick.

Shire Hall, Dorchester

The Court at Shire Hall. Photo supplied by Dorset Echo

The cells in Dorchester’s  Shire Hall hold a dubious but nevertheless fascinating position in British social history. For it was in these cells that members of early Trade Union organisation the Tolpuddle Martyrs were kept before being put on trial, convicted and deported. The Court within Shire Hall also has a claim to fame as Thomas Hardy worked here as a magistrate.

During the Heritage Open Days, there are architectural tours including visits to the Old Crown Court, prison cells, Jury Room and the post-war nuclear bunker. The tour is a chance to find out more about this history and also hear about the project currently underway to restore the building and turn it into a heritage attraction. This event is only available if booked and place are allocated by ballot.

Clavell Tower

Clavell Tower. Photo supplied by The Landmark Trust

Clavell Tower is a Grade II listed Tuscan style tower built in 1830. It lies on the Jurassic Coast, on the top of Hen Cliff just east of Kimmeridge Bay in the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. Four storeys tall, Clavell Tower is a circular structure which adds a striking element to one of Dorset’s most loved coasts. Clavell Tower is an important element in creating the well-loved atmosphere which has been praised and enjoyed by many a literary name, most notably Thomas Hardy and PD James. A visit to the Tower will also give you the chance to enjoy Anthony Gormley’s nearby art exhibition  LAND

Fancy making a weekend of it? 

We currently have a number of deals in Dorset with availability (at the time of writing) over the Heritage Open Days Weekend (10 - 13 September 2015). For instance, our two night  Poole Stay includes bed and breakfast as well as an evening meal on your first night. As well as being ideally located to explore the Dorset properties taking part in the Heritage Open Days, the deal also includes free tickets for a Pole Harbour Cruise. Prices start at £127 per person for the two nights.

More of our guides to the 2015 Heritage Open Days

Greater Manchester Cheshire Warwickshire
Our Guide to Heritage Open Days in Greater Manchester Our Guide to the Heritage Open Days in Cheshire Guide to Heritage Open Days in Warwickshire

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