Wolveton Gatehouse

Near Dorchester, Dorset

Overview

This is the medieval gatehouse of one of Dorset’s finest great houses, of which just a very fine Elizabethan wing survives today. Staying here gives a true flavour of what life must have been like if you were lucky enough to warrant such lodgings. The Gatehouse once framed the approach to a grand forecourt and the great of many kinds have passed through it.

  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath

Beds 2 Twin 1 Double

Sleeps
6
4 nights from
£379 equivalent to £15.79 per person, per night

A gatehouse dating back to the reign of Henry VIII

The Gatehouse once framed the approach to a grand forecourt and the great of many kinds have passed through it. Born nearby, Sir Walter Raleigh is thought to have visited, passing through the gates of Wolveton Gatehouse, and in 1610 the Trenchard of the day built a riding school in the grounds for the practice of an elite form of horsemanship, now a very rare survival. Today the Gatehouse reminds us of the noble existence once led here. Thomas Hardy came to tea at Wolveton in 1900 and the tragic tale of Lady Penelope D'Arcy, the second wife of George Trenchard, appears in his book of short stories, 'A Group of Noble Dames'.

Dorset families did well under the Tudors and many passed their good fortune on to us in the houses they built. The Trenchards of Wolveton, in the water-meadows west of Dorchester, put up one of the finest. John Trenchard inherited Wolveton through his mother, Christian Mohun, in 1480 and began work on the house. Sir Thomas Trenchard completed the Gatehouse in the reign of Henry VIII. Most of Sir Thomas’s house was demolished in the 1820s, leaving just the lavish Elizabethan wing erected by Sir George Trenchard. This wing is exceptional: windows with the delicate decoration of the Tudor Renaissance, an Elizabethan display of glass and much moulded oak and plaster.

Dorset Countryside

The gatehouse sits at the entrance to Wolveton House, a beautiful Elizabethan house, surrounded by stunning Dorset countryside. From here visit Lulworth Cove, Minterne Gardens or Lyme Regis. The accommodation is mainly on the first floor, reached by a wide and ancient spiral staircase made of oak. The corner turrets are called into service for kitchen and bathrooms.The two main rooms have Jacobean fireplaces, and turret rooms leading off them. A garret above and the guardroom below provide extra bedrooms. In winter, you can stoke up the fire, just as the Dorset nobility did hundreds of years ago.

‘You feel part of the history when staying here with the creaky floors and massive doors and amazing old wood floors.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Sitting at the entrance to Wolveton Gatehouse, you are surrounded by beautiful Dorset countryside. This is Hardy country with Dorchester close by.

Lulworth Cove is within easy driving distance, with spectacular walks all along this stunning coastline. The family festival Camp Bestival is held here every year, against the amazing seaside backdrop. 

Minterne Gardens lie in a tranquil valley setting. A day trip is ideal to gain some inspiration or simply some peace and quiet. 

Lyme Regis is within 30 minutes drive from Wolveton House, and Lyme Regis Fossil Festival is held every year to celebrate this fantastic area of coastline. There are lots of activities for everyone.

The nearby beautiful, historic market town of Dorchester is well worth a visit, especially its many fascinating museums, including the Dorset County Museum. Athelhampton House and Gardens, an early Tudor manor house, is a short drive away.

You can gain free entry to the Dorset County Museum and a 50% discount on entry to Athelhampton House with a National Art Pass, which enables its members to enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it at artfund.org/national-art-pass.

For more information and ideas for things to do during your stay at Wolveton Gatehouse, take a look at our Pinterest Map.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Wolveton Gatehouse
Near Dorchester, Dorset
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via an unmade drive.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Dorchester South – 1.5 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is parking about 20m from the Landmark.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, both with baths.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep and spiral.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a garden (not enclosed).
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    Yes, this property is hard to heat in winter.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

Only a fragment of a once larger house

Although now only a fragment of what was once a much larger house, Wolveton remains one of Dorset's finest manors. It was inherited in 1480 by John Trenchard at the death of his maternal grandfather, John Mohun, who had married the Wolveton heiress, Joanna Jourdain. Soon afterwards he began to build a new house. His son, Sir Thomas, continued the work, building a courtyard house which was later extended by Sir George Trenchard. The Gatehouse was completed by Sir Thomas in 1534.

Sir Thomas Trenchard inherited Wolveton at his father's death in 1495 when he was a boy of sixteen. There had almost certainly been a fortified house belonging to the Jourdains on the site and indeed the Gatehouse towers appear to be earlier. The shields on its west elevation bear the letters 'T' and 'E', which probably refer to Thomas and his third wife, Edith Hyndford or Hymerford. Sir Thomas Trenchard died in 1550 aged 71 and was succeeded in 1557 by his great grandson, George, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Along with a magnificent stone staircase, he built a grand south range with fine windows and plasterwork ceilings. His third son, George, married Lady Penelope D'Arcy, the subject of one of Thomas Hardy's 'Group of Noble Dames'.

In the 18th century, the Trenchards lived mainly at their other house, Lytchett Matravers, and Wolveton began to be overlooked. Its magnificent collection of armorial stained glass was removed to Lytchett, most of it being broken on the way. Many of the rooms were subdivided and let as lodgings. In a secret transaction, William Trenchard sold Wolveton in 1807, to his cousin and solicitor, Robert Henning. Most of Sir Thomas's house was soon demolished, leaving Sir George's wing and the Gatehouse.

Wolveton was bought in 1862 by Mr Weston who, whilst saving the house from ruin, made some rather heavy-handed additions. In 1874 he sold it to Mr Bankes, a younger son of the Kingston Lacy family. Mrs Bankes died at Wolveton in 1947 and it was taken over by her granddaughter, the Countess Zamoyska, who divided up the house. When it became too unmanageable, the Thimblebys stepped in. They have restored Wolveton and its Gatehouse to their former appearance, and since 1994 the Landmark Trust has arranged the letting of the Gatehouse for holidays on their behalf.

Restoration

The gatehouse was subdivided

Captain Thimbleby lived in the Gatehouse in the 1960's whilst on leave from serving in the army overseas. After being invalided out of the army, he returned to Wolveton and decided to move into the main part of the house, after the flats there had became vacant. The Gatehouse had been subdivided; both the sitting room and double bedroom. Breeze block partitions were dismantled and the splendid fireplace in the sitting room, which had been removed in 1945, was replaced. Ceilings and doors were restored to their original heights.

After a fire in the guardroom, later wall coverings were removed revealing the original fireplace and much original plaster and stonework. The shutters have been made from elms on the estate which fell down in the great gale of 1987. The Captain has provided most of the furniture and pictures in the Gatehouse, which are truly in the spirit of the Landmark Trust.

The room currently used as a Chapel is near the site of the ancient one. In the 18th century this had fallen down and present chapel was then in use as a schoolroom and chapel. Later in the mid 1800's it became a bakery; the flour being brought through an opening high up in the wall, down a shute, into the adjacent tower room. Fragments of the bread oven remain at the back of the Chapel fireplace, made of Broadmayne bricks. The Thimblebys have created a private chapel here once again.

The Gatehouse is happily in use for guests as it was intended, the Chapel is in use also. The Stables again house the family hunters and the House itself been returned to a single home once more. Whilst Dorchester is doing its best to encroach, in this small sanctuary there are badgers, foxes and roe deer. After many years other most welcome species have returned to Wolveton: trout, salmon, water rats, kingfishers and swans.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.