Wincombe Park was built in about 1810 in the villa style but the land that surrounds it has a history going back centuries. In the Middle Ages one of the lakes was used by the Abbess of Shaftesbury to provide fish for the inhabitants of the Abbey. The gardens surrounding the house are exquisite, especially in Spring. Shaftesbury is the site of the former Shaftesbury Abbey, founded in 888 by King Alfred and later one of the richest religious establishments in the country, before being destroyed in the Dissolution in 1539. Adjacent to the abbey site is Gold Hill, a steep cobbled street used in the famous TV commercial. Our tour will include the town's interesting history and its vantage points over the Blackmore Vale and beyond. Lunch is to be taken in the town's stylish but haunted Grosvenor Hotel. Stock Gaylard may have been a Saxon village, the remains of which were subsequently covered when Stock House was built. The current Stock Gaylard House is a Georgian Grade II* country house nestling in the undulating Blackmore Vale. It is a symmetrical building of three floors believed to have been built around 1714 during the tenure of the Lewys family. The house overlooks the deer park and gardens comprised of box hedging, herbaceous borders and mature trees, and the parish church which lies within the estate.

Exclusive to Historic Houses members. Tickets £70 including tea/coffee with cake on arrival at Wincombe Park and a two-course lunch at the Grosvenor Hotel with tea/coffee

Booking opens on 2 December at 9.00 am