Home of the Bankes family for more than 300 years, this striking 17th-century house was radically altered in the 19th century by Sir Charles Barry. The house is noted for its lavish interiors, including William Bankes’s dramatic Spanish Room, with its gilded leather walls. The family’s collection of art is outstanding, with paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Brueghel as well as the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK. This wonderfully eclectic experience continues outside. Take a stroll across the beautiful formal lawns towards the restored Japanese tea garden. There are several waymarked walks through the surrounding parkland, with its fine herd of North Devon cattle, and the 3,440-hectare (8,500-acre) estate – dominated by the botanically rich Iron Age hill fort of Badbury Rings, home to fourteen varieties of orchid.
Winner of Sandford Award 1990, 1995, 2000.