KINGSTON LACY, UK - SEPTEMBER 29, 2012: A view toward the country house at Kingston Lacy with landscaped gardens in Summer; Shutterstock ID 1033498075; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update

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Kingston Lacy

Top choice in Dorset

Dorset's must-see stately home looks every inch the setting for a period drama. It overflows with rich decor, most famously in the Spanish Room, which is smothered with gold and gilt. Other highlights are the hieroglyphics in the Egyptian Room and the elegant marble staircase and loggia. Artworks include the overwhelming ceiling fresco The Separation of Night and Day, by Guido Reni, and paintings by Rubens, Titian and Van Dyck.

Kingston Lacy is 2.5 miles west of Wimborne.

The house became the home of the aristocratic Bankes family when they were evicted from Corfe Castle by the Roundheads during the Civil War; look out for the bronze statue of Dame Mary Bankes in the loggia – she's shown still holding the keys to her much-loved castle in her hand. In the extensive landscaped grounds, hunt out the restored Japanese Tea Garden and the Iron Age hill fort of Badbury Rings.

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