Wolveton Gatehouse

Near Dorchester, Dorset


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.

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  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
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Beds 2 Twin 1 Double

4 nights from
£544 equivalent to £22.67 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.

Floor Plan


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Map & local info

One of the joys of holidays can be sampling local food and drink delicacies. Champions of UK food suppliers Big Barn are mapping out many of the best farm shops, butchers, greengrocers, markets and other outlets in an interactive – and ever-growing – food-map of our nations. To discover and source produce local to Wolveton Gatehouse, explore their website bigbarn.co.uk.

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.

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.

Clear directions
Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • No.
  • Via an unmade drive.
  • Dorchester South – 1.5 miles.
  • There is parking about 20m from the Landmark.
  • There are electric night storage heaters and an open fire.
  • Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit signalchecker.co.uk.* Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
    * Links to other sites are provided for information purposes only.  We do not endorse any such websites and we are not responsible for the information, material, products or services contained on or accessible through those websites.  Your access and use of such websites remains solely at your own risk.  For further information, visit our website terms of use.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker and a small dishwasher.  There isn't a freezer compartment in the fridge.
  • There are two bathrooms, both with baths.
  • The stairs are steep and spiral.
  • There is a garden (not enclosed).
  • Yes, this property is hard to heat in winter.
Booking and Payment
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two 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 and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • 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.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • 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
  • 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.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • 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
  • 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. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • 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.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • 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.
  • 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 visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
  • 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.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • 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.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • 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. Hairdryers are provided.

Do you have other questions?

Our Booking Enquiries team can help with information about each building.

Booking Enquiries
01628 825925
[email protected]

Opening hours
Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm


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.

A short history of Wolveton Gatehouse

The full history album for Wolveton Gatehouse

Download the Children's Explorer pack of Wolveton Gatehouse


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.