Dorset Historic or Architectural Properties and Gardens

Castles, Abbeys, Churches, Houses, Estates and Gardens
(English Heritage / National Trust / others)

Along with the attractions listed on this page you may also find places of interest on the Dorset Attractions and Nature pages. We suggest that you also visit the pages for the neighbouring counties to see what else there is in the area.

We support ‘Accessible Countryside for Everyone’ in providing a brief guide as to the access / facilities for the sites listed, where we have them.


Abbotsbury Abbey (EH) - Part of a monastic building, perhaps the abbot’s lodging, of Benedictine Abbotsbury Abbey, Henry VIII ordered it’s destruction during the Dissolution in 1538 - we have no disabled access info for this site


Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens - Abbotsbury, Nr Weymouth - Approximately 50% of the Garden is accessible to disabled visitors, disabled and baby change facilities available at the Colonial Restaurant.


Athelhampton House and Gardens - Cooke family - Dorchester - Gardens & ground floor accessible to wheelchair/scooter users - see website


Bennetts Water Gardens - 8 acres of gardens here are home to National & International Collections of Water Lilies - Weymouth - Partial wheelchair access is available around the gardens, Baby Changing - please see the website


Christchurch Castle and Norman House (EH) - The castle remains include parts of the keep and the 12th century riverside chamber block or 'Constable's House'. A very early example of domestic architecture including a rare Norman chimney - "A dirt path runs around the base of the keep, suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. There is a steep climb up to the remains for those who wish to explore further" Unfortunately we have no accessibility information for this site


Clouds Hill (NT) - Wareham - The rural retreat of T. E. Lawrence - "Because the cottage is much as Lawrence left it, we keep light levels low to protect the original contents" Unfortunately we have no other accessibility information for this site


Corfe Castle (NT) - Wareham - "Thousand-year-old royal castle shaped by warfare...One of Britain's most iconic and evocative survivors of the English Civil War, partially demolished in 1646 by the Parliamentarians", Licensed tea-room with garden - "Grounds - partly accessible, steep slopes, some steps, uneven paths, undulating terrain", accessible toilets, baby changing facilities


Edmondsham House and Garden - Wimborne - "Tudor and Georgian architecture with interesting contents. Organic walled garden, 6 acre garden" - Unfortunately we have no accessibility information for this site


Highcliffe Castle - Christchurch Borough Council - Highcliffe - "has been described as arguably the most important surviving house of the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture, which flourished at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century" - "The Gift Shop provides level access into the Castle. Once inside, the ground floor is fully accessible. A wheelchair is available for use by visitors on request and subject to availability" Unfortunately we have no other accessibility information for this site


Kingston Lacy - Elegant country mansion set in attractive formal gardens and extensive parkland - National Trust - Wimborne Minster - Disabled friendly & baby changing, "4 wheelchairs and 2 self-drive mobility buggies available for loan...Level access to ground floor of house only (2 rooms accessible)...Level access to shop and restaurant...Easy access to Eye Bridge, Pamphill, Badbury Rings, Holt Heath and forest", Induction loop, Braille guide, has Push off-road wheelchairs


Lulworth Castle and Park - The Weld family - East Lulworth - famous for its Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove,a natural horseshoe-shaped harbour, village and estate - Not full access to all areas of the site - Unfortunately we have no other accessibility information for this site



Mapperton - Earl and Countess of Sandwich - Beaminster - Mapperton Gardens is a romantic valley garden deep into a lost Dorset combe. The house, Elizabethan in origin, enlarged in the late 1660s, contains The Sandwich collection which includes pictures by Lely, Van de Velde the Younger, Scott, Reynolds and Hogarth. The House is open via guided tours only - "The paths in the Gardens are gravel and some areas are very steep due to the natural topography. Approximately 50% of the garden is considered to be accessible by wheelchair and there is a recommended wheelchair route...The café, the ground floor of house and the shop are all accessible to wheelchairs. However the house is not accessible in an electric wheelchair", accessible toilet located at the Sawmill cafe


Minterne House Gardens - Digby family - Minterne Magna, Dorchester - Landscaped in the manner of Capability Brown the gardens are laid out in a horseshoe below Minterne House, home of the Churchill and Digby families since 1620, it "hosts a world renowned and completely unique collection of Himalayan Rhododendrons and Azaleas, with Spring bulbs, Cherries, Maples and many fine and rare trees" - Their website states "Minterne Gardens are NOT SUITABLE for wheelchairs"


Nothe Fort - Weymouth Civic Society - Weymouth Harbour - a family attraction, the Fort is a labyrinth of underground passageways and outdoor areas with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast. "Built by the Victorians to protect Portland Harbour, Nothe Fort is one of the best preserved Forts of its kind. The advances in technology that affected the Fort are explained through many displays, exhibits and audio visual facilities located on the ramparts, gun decks and maze of underground passageways" - "Acesss to those with Restricted Mobility is available to most of the fort including the cafe and all levels"


Portland Castle (EH) - Built by Henry VIII to defend England, the Castle also played a part in World War I and II. Attractions include Tudor kitchen, Great Hall, gardens, audio tour, tearoom, picnic tables - "There is disabled access to the Captain's House, ground floor of the castle, gift shop and the Governor's Garden...Hand held braille plaques are available for visitors on request...There is an induction loop installed permanently in the shop", accessible toilets, baby changing facilities


Sherborne Castle Digby family - Sherborne - Built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594 and the stately home of the Digby family since 1617, Sherborne Castle is a Historic House which reflects a glorious variety of decorative styles from over 400 years of English history, 42 acres of beautiful gardens and grounds, Capability Brown landscape, tea room, gift shop - Castle "Only the ground floor is accessible to wheelchair/scooter users, however this floor does include some of our most notable rooms", "Our garden paths all have a smooth gravel surface which has wheelchair/scooter users in mind; benches are located throughout the garden areas", "The Tearoom, Gift Shop and WCs are all accessible"


Sherborne Old Castle (EH)(ruin) - Built on a grand scale in the 12th century by the Bishop of Salisbury, Sherborne was coveted by churchmen and noblemen alike giving it a long, chequered history, "After withstanding two sieges during the Civil War, only the Southwest Gatehouse and parts of the castle, including the Great Tower and the North Range, now survive." - "The site is wheelchair accessible (all surfaces are grassed)....All pathways are gravel. There are also a number of undulating grassed areas...A single disabled unisex portaloo is available"


Thomas Hardy's Cottage (NT) - Dorchester - Evocative cob and thatch cottage, birthplace of Thomas Hardy in 1840. "The garden reflects most people's idea of a typical cottage garden, with roses around the door", shop, toilets and café at the visitor centre - "The ‘Accessible route’ to the cottage from the Visitor Centre is an uneven Bridlepath and can become deep sand during dry weather" Visitor Centre is accessible, the cottage is accessible to the ground floor only "There is space to turn a wheelchair easily only in the Parlour and in Granny’s Kitchen...There is a Braille guide which contains the information found in the Cottage Handbooks"


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