Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is a grand country manor house and estate in Dorset, England. For generations, the home was the family seat of the Bankes family who lived nearby at Corfe Castle until it was destroyed during the English Civil War because its inhabitants, Sir John and Mary Bankes, remained loyal to Charles I.

Built by Ralph Bankes in the 17th century surrounded by impressive landscape gardens, the property was left to the National Trust in 1982 and is nowadays open to the public.

Kingston Lacy history

The house at Kingston Lacy was originally built in the medieval period, used as a hunting lodge because of the large deer park to the northwest. Kingston Lacy was leased to those who were in favour with the reigning royals, including John Beaufort whose daughter Margaret, mother of Henry VII, grew up there.

After the Civil War when Corfe Castle was destroyed, the Bankes family moved to the property and had it remodelled. Formerly agricultural land was converted into parkland and the hamlet of Kingston was demolished. By the 1830s, the estate had passed to William John Bankes who had a keen eye for art and collecting. Between 1835 and 1838, William had Kingston Lacy encased in Chilmark stone.

William’s mark on Kingston was a large collection of Egyptian artefacts and masterful paintings, adorning each of the house’s rooms. However, the house could not fully provide William with a sanctuary for his sexuality. In 1833, he escaped punishment for ‘an unnatural offence‘ – relations with another man which was punishable by death.

Thanks to his powerful network and influence William escaped charges, but after a similar incident in 1841, he fled abroad. Before his death in Venice in 1855, it is believed William visited Kingston Lacy one more time. A letter he wrote contained advice for altering one of the doors, a small detail that would only have been noted in person.

Kingston Lacy today

Today, visitors to Kingston Lacy can walk the lavishly decorated halls of the manor house before exploring the estate’s extensive parkland. You can download one of the many walking routes and wander the woods, or enjoy the dedicated silent space of the garden between 3 and 5pm daily.

Highlights across the property are the ‘Seven Treasures of Kingston Lacy’, including the Philae Obelisk that helped to decipher hieroglyphs, and the Vizagapatam cabinet – an exquisite South Asian piece of furniture. The golden painted ceilings and walls lined with great portraits are also guaranteed to inspire awe in any visitor.

Getting to Kingston Lacy

The easiest way to reach Kingston Lacy is by car: head for the B3082 Blandford to Wimborne road. Parking is free. Bus services from Bournemouth and Poole stop at Wimbourne Square. From here you will need to get a taxi for 3 miles (10 minutes) to Kingston Lacy.

Specialist Practice

In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Kingston Lacy like this: KINGSTON-LACY , a manor in Wimborne-Minster parish, Dorset 2 miles NW of Wimborne. It contains the hamlets of Abbotstreet, Badbury, Barford, Barnesley, Cowgrove, Pamphill, and Stone. Pop., 752. An urn, with Roman coins, was found at Pamphill in 1736. Kingston Hall is the seat of the Bankes family was built in 1663 by Sir Ralph Bankes, and restored by Barry contains a rich collection of pictures, numerous other works of art, and the key and seal of Corfe Castle, so remarkably defended by Lady Bankes and has, in its park, an Egyptian obelisk, brought hither from Philæ, and refounded in 1827 by the Duke of Wellington.
(sourced from

Who Owned the house and what happened within this time?
Sir John Bankes, MP and Lord Chief Justice, bought the Isle of Purbeck, Corfe Castle and the Kingston Lacy estate in 1635-6. During the Civil War, Sir John’s wife defended the castle for the King, but was defeated in 1646, and Corfe Castle was destroyed by the Parliamentarians.
In 1663, Sir John’s son, Sir Ralph Bankes, commissioned the architect Roger Pratt to design a new family seat on the Kingston Lacy estate. The building and furnishing of Kingston House put Sir Ralph seriously into debt and his son was obliged to lease it to the 1st Duke of Ormonde to save money. In 1693, the family was able to return to Kingston Hall and it remained the residence of the Bankes family until 1981 when it was given to the National Trust , as part of a huge bequest which included Corfe Castle and much of the surrounding land.

Georgian connection
Kingston Lacy was owned by the Bankes family throughout the Georgian and Regency periods.

Henry Bankes (1698-1776) inherited from his brother John in 1772 and, although already in his seventies, he reorganised the estate with great determination.

Henry Bankes the Younger (1757-1834) was a Tory MP and a trustee of the British Museum . He was married to Frances Woodley, a renowned beauty. His alterations to Kingston House included the creation of a ballroom.


The Kingston Lacy estate originally formed part of a royal estate within the manor of Wimborne. The original house stood to the north of the current house. It was built in the medieval period and was used as a hunting lodge in connection with the deer park to its northwest. Leased to those who found favour with the monarch, lessees included the de Lacys, Earls of Lincoln, who held it in addition to estates at Shapwick and Blandford Forum. In the 15th century the property was leased to John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, whose daughter Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, was brought up at Kingston Lacy. [2]

Corfe Castle was slighted, by order of parliament, in the 17th century.

By the 18th century the house was in ruins. In 1603 King James I gave the lands to Sir Charles Blount. In 1636, his son sold the estate to Sir John Bankes, who had been appointed attorney general to King Charles I in 1634. [4] Sir John was born in Cumberland, but through his extensive legal works had acquired sufficient funds to purchase the Corfe estate. During the Civil War, the Bankes family remained loyal to the crown Sir John died at Oxford in December 1644, the King having retired there for the winter.

Left to fend for herself during two sieges, his wife Mary Bankes defended Corfe Castle, but it eventually fell to the Parliamentary forces. In March 1645 Parliament voted to slight the castle, and it was left in its present ruinous state. [2] Although deprived of their castle, the Bankes family owned some 8,000 acres (3,200   ha) of the surrounding Dorset countryside and coastline. [1] The masonry from the destroyed castle was used by local villagers to rebuild their own residences. [5]

Sir Ralph died in 1677, and his widow let the house to the Duke of Ormonde from 1686 and 1688. John Bankes the Elder regained the property in 1693, and with his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Henry Parker of Honington Hall, completed most of his father's original development plan. In 1772 the house passed to his second son Henry who remodelled it, built a servants' wing, and enclosed the parkland for better agricultural management. [2]

The 1784 Enclosure Act allowed Henry Bankes the Younger, grandson of Ralph Bankes, to create the current estate and parkland footprint. He demolished the hamlet of Kingston which was situated adjacent to the 16th-century Keeper's Lodge, diverted the Blandford road (now the B3082) and converted former agricultural land to parkland. He undertook further minor alterations in the 1820s, before he became a Member of Parliament for the rotten borough of Corfe. He was a trustee for the British Museum and its parliamentary advocate, and some of his collections which were once part of the house, are now in the museum. [1] Bankes entertained his friends at the house, including William Pitt the Younger and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. [1]

Bankes' son, the explorer and adventurer William John Bankes, commissioned his friend Charles Barry to encase the red brick hall in stone, and enlarge his other property Soughton Hall. Barry remodelled Kingston Lacy between 1835 and 1838. The work involved facing the brick with Chilmark stone, adding a tall chimney at each corner, and lowering the ground level on one side to expose the basement level and form a new principal entrance. He planted beech tree avenues along the Blandford Road, of which some 2   1 ⁄ 4 miles (3.6   km) survives. [2] [6]

Bust of Mark Antony collected by William John Bankes exhibited at Kingston Lacy

William John Bankes collected most of the house's antiquities. He travelled extensively in the Middle East and Asia, amassing the world's largest individual collection of Ancient Egyptian antiques. [1] Most notable is the Philae obelisk which stands prominently in the grounds of the house. When in Genoa he acquired the portrait of Maria di Antonio Serra, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, painted on the occasion of her marriage to Duke Nicolò Pallavicini in 1606. In 1841, after being caught in a homosexual scandal that could have resulted in a trial and his execution, William John fled the country for Italy. His art collection was left at Kingston Lacy, where his notes and drawings remained for many years in a cabinet, unpublished and forgotten. [7]

During William John's absence the estate was managed by his brother, George Bankes, who inherited it on his brother's death just a year before his own in 1857. His youngest grandson Walter Ralph inherited the estate in 1869, and later in life married Henrietta, and had a son: Henry John Ralph Bankes. After Walter's death in 1902, his widow undertook the last major developments to the estate, including construction of the church (1907), new entrance lodges (1912󈝹) and numerous estate cottages. [2] In 1923 control passed to Ralph Bankes, the seven times great-grandson of the original creator. During the Second World War an extensive military encampment was established in the south-east quarter of the park, which was only restored after the National Trust took ownership. [2] Ralph Bankes died in 1981 and the Kingston Lacy estate, including 12 working farms, and Corfe Castle were bequeathed to the National Trust. The gift was formally accepted on 19 August 1982, the largest bequest that it had ever accepted. [1] [8]

Tess Young Designs & Makes

Wow, thank you for the amazing reception for Kingston Lacy, for your blogiversary well wishes, and for the feedback on the pattern writing discussion in the previous post. It was fabulous to connect over these things, and so widely. I’ll take your thoughts and feedback with me as I work on new pattern releases in the coming months. Having thoroughly appreciated my sabbatical from designing, I’m excited that there are so many ideas and projects now heading towards fruition.

Today, however I want to a little step back and spend a some time talking more directly about the Kingston Lacy pattern. I was a little wary of launching this pattern as my first independent return to publishing. Partly because it has been in the background for so long.

As I think I mentioned previously, it was inspired by the lace insert the from Badbury Shawl Pattern that I published back in February 2016. In fact the lace sample of Kingston Lacy was worked on during our summer holiday that year (remember when that was a thing?).

The longer the pattern sat, the more my doubts multiplied. I think it was partly the simplicity of an all over lace repeat that made me wonder whether there would be in any interest in the pattern. I thought there was added value in the multiple gauges, but that wasn’t enough to entirely convince me.

As I reviewed all my patterns in progress with a view to moving some of them through to publication, I realised that Kingston Lacy was actually ready to go. As I reconsidered it, I realised that:

  • I loved the reversibility of the lace.
  • I liked that it started from the bottom up and could be worked until there was a certain percentage of yarn remaining and then the finishing worked.
  • I thought it was pretty cool just how different a vibe the lace version had, classic, large airy, compared to the single skein 4 ply, perfect worn bandana style version, or the great alternative to a scarf DK version.
  • I realised the simple repetition of an all over, easily memorised lace pattern was exactly the kind of project I’d found refuge in during lockdown.

Then when I applied the same process of review to the website & blog and realised it was 10 years old, the plan was hatched to mark the re-launch the website and resumption active designing by releasing Kingston Lacy as a free pattern for the month.

The response has been a little overwhelming and way beyond anything I could have imagined. It has been a huge boost in terms of not only volume, but also generous and constructive feedback and shared memories of the place after which the shawl was named, so again, Thank you.

Kingston Lacy is a large country house and estate in Dorset. Now a National Trust Property, my grandmother and aunt both worked ‘in-service’ at the house in the 1930s and 1940s when it was still in the ownership of the Banks Family. I visited the house for the first time a couple of years ago, with my Mum who was able to tell stories told to her by my gran and aunt, her older sister. I must admit, I wasn’t really prepared for just how grand the interior was, or the extent of the art and antiquities collections*. It made me stop and think what my grandmother thought of it all, working such in such a house, with such evident wealth, and then returning to her small tied cottage**, which even as I remember it in the 1980s still had a flagstone on mud floor, no electricity and an outside toilet.

At the time, as a child, I remember the Kingston Lacy estate mainly for Badbury Rings, the Iron Age Hill fort, where I, like other readers of the blog played as a child (yes, I remember the cow pats too, and may have stepped in one or two, and got tangled in the brambles). Looking back, this is also the time of year when stunning carpets of snowdrops in the woods around the house could be seen from the road. The reverse side of the lace motif is reminiscent of these snowdrops while the right side evokes the imposing facade of the house itself.

It is for these memories and, this connection to place and family that I named the Kingston Lacy shawl. Ours is not the dominant history of this place but it is, I believe important to bring together all the strands of history that make place and privilege. Please, do follow the links below to see how the National Trust is approaching recognition of the long hidden histories of colonialism and slavery associated with its properties.

I hope you enjoy your Kingston Lacy shawl. I did wonder about changing the name of the pattern when I became aware of the wider history, but simply evading these issues is not, I feel, an adequate answer. Instead I hope that as we sit with our knitting, we also sit with some of these historic processes in mind, considering how they impact our collective present and how we can address them in our everyday practice. I have been doing so and have a plan for proceeds from the shawl once the free period expires, which I’ll share with you nearer the time.

You can download the Kingston Lacy pattern for free for the month of February from the download link in the previous post, 󈫺 years of blogging…“

Until next time, Take care and contemplative knitting,

*The National Trust website, also now acknowledges the colonial sources of some of the wealth, including that generated through slavery, that supported the the homes and estates of the British aristocracy, including those who voted for abolition.

** Tied cottages were traditionally provided for agricultural workers and were ‘tied’ to employment on a farm or estate. Such accommodation was one way of keeping wages low and there was little incentive for owners to maintain or modernise such accommodation.

BANKES, Henry (1756-1834), of Kingston Lacy, Dorset.

b. 19 Dec. 1756, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Henry Bankes † of Kingston by 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Rt. Rev. John Wynne, bp. of Bath and Wells, sis. and coh. of Sir William Wynne of Soughton Hall, Flints. educ. Westminster 1767-73 Trinity Hall, Camb. 1773 Grand Tour. m. 18 Aug. 1784, Frances, da. of William Woodley † , gov. Leeward Islands, 4s. 2da. suc. fa. 1776.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commdt. W. Dorset militia 1808.


To an estate of 60,000 acres Bankes added the accomplishments of a scholar and connoisseur, married to ‘one of the most remarkable beauties of the day’. Sitting for his own close seat, he made his parliamentary debut as an opponent of Lord North and was an early adherent of William Pitt. Yet Farington the diarist was told that ‘if every measure which Mr Pitt brought forward was not previously explained to him, he opposed it’ and also reported that ‘as Bankes sometimes voted against Pitt, he was asked . if it made any difference between them he replied not the least’. During his 51 years in the House, Bankes acquired a formidable reputation for independence, with a place of his own on the cross-benches known as ‘Bankes’ bench’. His friend Wilberforce described him, somewhat optimistically, as one of those ‘from whose general principles one may anticipate pretty confidently how they will act in given circumstances’. His general principles derived chiefly from his insistence on public parsimony. This meant constant vigilance over administration. He deplored the cost of war with France and of continental alliances and in peacetime called for retrenchment. He fought a campaign for the abolition of sinecures and reversionary offices and for the rationalization of administrative costs, and over the years became a firm advocate of the parliamentary committee as a check on administration, as well as an acknowledged expert on parliamentary procedure. Yet he did not inspire: he was, to quote his son’s friend John Cam Hobhouse, ‘a dull dog’.1

Bankes was inconspicuous in the Parliament of 1790 until he joined Wilberforce in his bid for peace, 30 Dec. 1794. He stated that he had approved the war at the outset as a defensive one: now its cost was becoming ruinous and negotiations for peace should be opened as soon as possible. Privately, he had written on 26 Dec.: ‘I have seldom felt more uncomfortable about politics than at this moment, and I am really much in doubt how to act though I think in such a time it is not right to absent myself’. He added that in his view the French republic could not now be overthrown and it was better to treat with them before the allies deserted if negotiations failed, ‘our people would see the necessity of continuing [the war]’.2 He further voted with the minority for a peace bid on 26 Jan. and 6 Feb. 1795, as well as against the imperial loan, 5 Feb. On 27 May he was a teller for Wilberforce’s plea for peace. The payment of the Prince of Wales’s debts from the public purse also met with his disapproval, 1 and 5 June. He criticized the inadequacy of the recommendations of the committee on the high price of corn, 11 Dec., believing that the rich should eat the same bread as the poor. He voted for the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796, as he had done previously on 18 Apr. 1791, at which time he was reckoned hostile to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland.

Bankes’s ‘secession’ from the ministerial viewpoint was no passing phase. On 1 Mar. 1797, supporting inquiry into the stability of the Bank, he claimed that the cost of war had undermined it: ‘it was the nature of man to set too high a value upon the object of his heart and too little on the price he pays for obtaining it’. He became a co-editor of the Anti-Jacobin in December 1797 and approved the suppression of rebellion in Ireland, but opposed the sending over of the militia, on which he divided the House, 19 June 1798. Moreover, he was a keen critic of the project of union with Ireland, 12 Feb. 1799: Irish problems were best dealt with on the spot and ‘the state of Ireland was not such as we could incorporate with’. So he voted against it, 14 Feb. 1799. On 22 Apr. 1800, he described the Union as a ‘mere palliative, and no cure’, and on 25 Apr. spoke for the minority who voted against flooding Westminster with Irish Members. On 2 May he added that the mass of the Irish were ‘a very dangerous set’, and being unable to make common cause with them ‘we could not bring into this union the physical force of Ireland’. Besides, he thought a hundred Irish Members at Westminster was at least ten too many (5 May). On 19 Mar. 1801 he voted against the Irish master of the rolls bill.3

During that Parliament Bankes had become active as a committee member. His first effort to sway the House as a committee chairman was unsuccessful when he had to abandon his project of encouraging potato growing among the poorer classes to counter the high price of provisions in March 1800. Nevertheless, he persevered as a committee man and, on his own admission, when he was not downstairs, he was upstairs.4 He gave a cool reception to Addington’s ministry, regretting that the address held out no prospects of peace, 3 Feb. 1801: it was ‘British gold and British obstinacy that kept the flame of war alive’. Nevertheless, he did not vote against the address.5 He did vote for inquiry into the fiasco of the Ferrol expedition, 19 Feb. He approved the armistice, 3 Nov., but feared that ministers were preparing for a renewal of hostilities and objected to continental entanglements, 20 Nov. He was in the minority on the civil list, 29 Mar. 1802, and disapproved the ‘new plan of finance’, 3 June, even if Pitt approved it. The peace establishment was ‘too large for economy and not sufficient for defence. It was a maxim of policy, that in great affairs nothing was so unwise as to pursue a middle course’ (9 June). On 8 Dec. he ‘threw out hints’ on defence: ‘our radical strength, a love of the constitution was a better security than the numbers of armies’ and, bolstered by insularity, forbade competition with a continental power like France. He advocated resumption of cash payments by the Bank, 7 and 11 Feb. 1803, and supported inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s claims on the duchy revenues, 23 Feb. He shared Wilberforce’s aversion to the resumption of hostilities, as his votes of 19 and 24 May showed, but had no wish to see a Whig junction with the ministry. He may have voted with Pitt on 3 June.

From 7 Mar. to 25 Apr. 1804 he was in steady opposition to Addington and was listed a Pittite then and in September. On 8 June he defended Pitt’s additional force bill against Addington and Fox and on 12 Feb. 1805 approved war with Spain. But he was critical of the civil list and of the militia enlisting bill in March. Moreover, he was in the majority censuring Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, and next day informed Pitt:

I sincerely lament the transaction upon your account, as well as upon Lord Melville’s but with such a case confessed, it was impossible that any supplemental evidence would excuse the transgression of the law.6

Whitbread was prepared to nominate him to his proposed committee of investigation into Melville’s conduct, 25 Apr. On 12 June he was in the majority for criminal prosecution, which he preferred to impeachment: Lady Spencer reported on 10 June, ‘Bankes says he votes with us if Lord Melville does not, contrary to his expectations, clear himself in his speech tomorrow in the House of Commons’. He had also spoken and voted against the Duke of Atholl’s Manx claims, 7 June. A month later he was listed ‘doubtful’ from the ministerial viewpoint, though a letter from him to Pitt on 19 Dec. 1805 indicates concern for the minister’s health and continued support. On Pitt’s death he was opposed to public payment of his debts and avoided the debate on the subject.7

Bankes was not ill-disposed to the Grenville ministry: he voted (30 Apr.) and spoke (8 May) in defence of their repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, which had failed. He thought they were as good a set of ministers ‘as could be made out of such discordant materials’, though he had some reservations, notably about William Windham. He approved the latter’s training bill, 26 June, but thought the volunteers hard done by, 11 July. He had no time for the charges raised against Wellesley’s conduct in India (8 May, 16, 18, 25 June 1806, 26 Jan. 1807, 10 Mar. 1808), though he was disposed to listen to criticism of St. Vincent’s naval administration, 14 May 1806. On Fox’s death he thought ‘some addition of strength, as well as of talent’ was needed and was disappointed that Grenville did not resort to the Pittites.8 But he received ministerial endorsement in his unsuccessful bid for the county seat at the election of 1806.

Bankes was satisfied that the breakdown of the Grenville ministry’s negotiations with Buonaparte was not their fault and he approved their ‘new plan of finance’, 19 Feb. 1807, though he wished foreign investments in British funds to be taxed, 9 Feb. 1807, 15 June 1808, and was hostile to the subsidy to Prussia, 5 Mar. 1807. Grenville had gratified Bankes by making him chairman of the committee appointed on 10 Feb. 1807 to vet public expenditure, thinking him ‘in general disposed to be right-headed’ and hoping that he could be controlled, particularly as the committee was empowered to recommend reductions.9 The Whig majority on the committee were anxious to start reporting before the dissolution of 1807, but Bankes demurred. Certainly he brought in a preliminary resolution on 24 Mar. that no office should in future be granted in reversion, and this was not only carried unopposed but provided the pretext for depriving the new chancellor of the Exchequer, Perceval, of the emoluments of the duchy of Lancaster for life. Bankes otherwise disappointed Whig hopes.10 He had already criticized public support for Catholic education in Ireland, 20 Feb., 4 Mar., and he did not side with the outgoing ministers on Brand’s motion of 9 Apr. He stated on 15 Apr. that he saw ‘no reason to refuse confidence’ to the Portland ministry and countenanced a stand against Catholic claims, acting as teller for government.

Bankes again failed to secure the county seat in 1807, though he was nearer to success than in 1806. On 29 June he reintroduced his bill to abolish reversions, which had been interrupted by the dissolution. Ministers did not oppose it and it passed on 9 July, but was rejected in the Lords on 4 Aug. Perceval, aware of the widespread support for the bill by country gentlemen and Members for populous boroughs, personally assured Bankes that no reversions would be granted until the question was revived. On 10 Aug. Bankes carried an address to stop any such grants until six weeks after the start of the next session. The bill was again passed on 1 Feb. 1808 but, despite ministerial backing, defeated by the ultras headed by Perceval’s brother in the Lords. Bankes, egged on by the Whigs, promised to try again: he voted with opposition on the mutiny bill, 14 Mar., though he supported the orders in council. His third bid was hampered by the threat of amendments from Perceval, but on 4 Apr. he compromised with Perceval for a limitation of the bill to just over a year, pending the third report of the public expenditure committee. The bill then passed both Houses. The committee’s first reports on the pay office, 22 July 1807, had speedily caused that department to put its house in order and the second report on the management of the national debt, calling on the Bank to reduce its charges, was implemented in Perceval’s budget of 1808. The third report on places and pensions, 29 June 1808, was more controversial. Bankes had resisted Cochrane’s bid on 7 July 1807 to restrict the inquiry to the emoluments of MPs and their families, but, as he feared, Perceval’s counter-bid to embrace all places and pensions slowed up the inquiry and Perceval’s remodelling of the select committee, 30 June 1807, enabled ministerial Members to hamper progress. The report, for which he wrote a controversial preface, was less incisive than Bankes wished, though it envisaged savings of over £80,000 p.a. and a supplement of January 1809 revealed the interesting fact that of 76 MPs who were placeholders, 28 held sinecures. But Bankes opted out of the committee for that session, 24 Jan. 1809. Instead he attempted to cut a figure in the debates on the Duke of York’s alleged abuse of army patronage. On 10 Mar. he suggested an amendment to the proposed censure, charging the duke with immorality rather than corruption. It was supported by the ‘Saints’, but defeated. Bankes thereupon criticized the whole proceedings of the House in the affair, 17 Mar. He supported Porchester’s sale of offices prevention bill, 20 Apr. In June he failed to secure an amendment to Curwen’s reform bill and ‘moved a dozen peevish crotchetty amendments’ on the judges’ salary bill—all negatived.11

When Perceval became prime minister, Bankes, who doubted if the ministry could do without Canning, remained ‘out of invitation distance’.12 Perceval had resisted his manifesto of 8 June 1809 that every superfluous office should be abolished and the salary reduced to that of the acting deputies. On 31 Jan. 1810 Bankes was re-elected unopposed to the finance committee and resumed the chair. Opposition had encouraged him by rejecting three of Perceval’s nominees and when Perceval in return resisted the revival of the reversion bill, the House called for the bill by acclamation. Bankes remained independent: he had voted for the address, 23 Jan., but with the opposition majority for the Scheldt inquiry on 26 Jan. and again on 23 Feb. On 1 Mar. he was prepared to oppose the army estimates, had there been a division. On 5 Mar., however, he was in the government majority, denying the cabinet’s right to veto Chatham’s confidential report to the King on the ground that the cabinet had no constitutional existence. On 9 Mar., in the debate on the subsidy to Portugal, he opposed ministers violently. The Whigs were not surprisingly ‘doubtful’ of him, though he was in the minority on the conclusion of the Scheldt inquiry on 30 Mar. Meanwhile, his fourth reversion bill had been rejected in the Lords on 26 Feb., and a fifth, brought in on 20 Mar. against his better judgment, was likewise rejected. On 31 Mar. he announced his opposition to parliamentary reform, which he had supported only ‘at a time that he supposed the respectable part of society wished for these changes’. He voted against the release of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and against Brand’s motion for reform, 21 May.

Bankes’s initial emphasis in his campaign against sinecures on the need to reduce the power of the crown had shifted to making it a moral end in itself, without counting the cost. On 16 May to meet his critics, he proposed to replace sinecures by a pension fund whereby government might reward services rendered. The proposal was rejected by 99 votes to 93. Nevertheless, he obtained a select committee to investigate sinecures, securing the support of Canning and his friends as well as of opposition. In this, Fremantle reported, he was ‘inexorable, and completely assumed the character of opposition by haranguing us in the lobby and imploring us to stay’.13 He voted with opposition on the Regency questions of 1 and 21 Jan. 1811, and on the latter day his nominees were accepted on the renewal of the finance committee and the select committee on sinecures. Government resisted his sixth reversion bill of April 1811, which went to the Lords but was rejected there. On 31 May he was an ambiguous supporter of Catholic claims, who did not wish for immediate relief: only a week before there had been ‘a most curious scene in the House . between Bankes and all the Irish’, when he called for the extension of the property tax to Ireland.14 In presenting the tenth report of the finance committee, 24 June, Bankes criticized military accounting. He was a spokesman for the resumption of cash payments by the Bank in July 1811, and so remained until 1818.

By 1812 Bankes’s prestige was at its height. Scarcely a debate of importance occurred in which his voice was not heard. Wilberforce anticipated (mistakenly) that William Morton Pitt would resign the county seat in Bankes’s favour.15 His committees were renewed without question, 27 Jan. 1812. His seventh reversion bill was rejected in the Lords in February, but he secured a token victory in his violent attack on the ‘sinecure’ paymastership of widows’ pensions, intended for Col. McMahon, 24 Feb. (Yet he cheered Perceval against opposition on the question of the droits of Admiralty that week.)16 On 10 Mar. he tried a temporary bill to veto reversions until 28 Feb. 1814, which passed both Houses. It had taken eight attempts to secure a bill that involved only 40 reversionaries. On 4 May he succeeded in launching a sinecure regulation bill, which Perceval ‘in vain attempted to oppose’, by 134 votes to 123.17 It passed the Commons on 17 June, but was rejected by the Lords. Bankes also aligned himself with opposition that session on the framework bill, 17 Feb., the barracks estimates, in April, delays in Chancery, 6 May, and the Admiralty registrar’s bill, 19 June. He reluctantly supported the leather tax, but opposed the penitentiary scheme, 1 July. On 13 July he supported and was teller for the preservation of public peace bill. He did not vote on the question of a stronger administration, 21 May, but was teller for Canning’s Catholic relief motion on 22 June. He favoured Liverpool’s negotiations with Canning in July, but advised Canning to strike a hard bargain and congratulated him on his ultimate refusal to parley.18

Bankes gave up the idea of contesting Dorset at the election of 1812. He was listed ‘doubtful’ by the Treasury: with justice, for he was in the minorities on the gold coin bill, 11 Dec. 1812, and the vice-chancellor bill, 11 Feb. 1813. On 29 Mar. he again induced the Commons to approve his sinecure regulation bill: it was virtually an open question there, but the Lords again rejected it. He did not try again, nor did he seek to renew the veto on reversions when it expired. Even if he had grown weary of the campaign and the House coughed him down, 15 June 1813, he had made his point. Goulburn’s colonial officers bill in 1814 was a concession to his ideas and the Liverpool administration showed marked sensitivity to them in the next few years.19 He had ceased, meanwhile, to be a political threat to the government. The turning point came when he became ‘Protestant’ Bankes in 1813. On 25 Feb. Peel wrote that Bankes, who had been rallying the anti-Catholics and

who voted with Canning last year, will lead the opposition to Grattan this night. It is contrary to all general principles to employ as a leader a deserter from the enemy’s camp, but it is justifiable in this case, I think, as well as politic, and it will greatly encourage all relapsed and relapsing Protestants.20

He remained militantly anti-Catholic. He also voted in favour of Christian missions to India, June-July 1813.

Although Bankes continued to press for public economy, the Whig opposition took the subject over from him henceforward and he was reluctant to join forces with them. He remained critical of parliamentary reform and in November 1813 attempted to foist a £10 franchise on Helston, if the freeholders of the neighbouring hundreds were enfranchised. On 20 May 1814 he championed the select committee on the corn trade to which he was appointed on 6 June when he came out in favour of agricultural protection, the mob attacked Sir Joseph Banks’s house in mistake for his. He set his face against industrialization: ‘instead of having a peaceable, easy governed society, they would place the population of the country in a state that the peace of the community would depend upon their being constantly kept in employment’, 27 Feb. 1815. He defended coercion in Ireland, 23 June 1814 opposed the international abolition of the slave trade, 28 June, and favoured the continuation of the property tax provided it was extended to Ireland, April 1815. He remained vigilant against abuses in government departments and opposed the civil list and new public building programmes. He deprecated expensive alliances against the returned Buonaparte if France rallied to him, 7 Apr., 26 May 1815. After Waterloo he expected France to pay for her defeat, and after a visit to Paris advised English withdrawal from the Continent, 29 June 1815, 20 Feb. 1816. He opposed the army estimates in March 1816 and, although he voted for the renewal of the property tax on Mar. and for the civil list on 24 May, joined opposition in other divisions on retrenchment that session. On 7 May he moved for a committee of inquiry into public offices, to no avail. Bankes was named to the select committee on public income and expenditure in 1817, 1818 and 1819, but when he tried to smuggle in his own ideas, was snubbed, only Tierney supporting him and when the ministry proceeded to replace sinecures by pensions, adopting some of Bankes’s proposals of 1812, no acknowledgment was made to him. He now voted with opposition only on questions of retrenchment and, with reservations of his own, on the resumption of cash payments by the Bank. He was in favour of the suspension of habeas corpus, 28 Feb., 23 June 1817, and supported ministers steadily on that issue. Canning, in a speech of 29 Jan. 1817, stated with respect to Bankes:

My hon. friend is well known for the independent manner in which his speeches and his votes are directed, sometimes to this, and sometimes to that side of the House a manner the most conformable to the theory of a perfect Member of Parliament.

A year later he acquired neighbours on his cross-bench when the Grenvillite ‘third party’ moved over.

In 1818 Bankes published his Civil and constitutional history of Rome from the foundation to the age of Augustus, a reflection of his abiding interest in constitutional history. It showed him to be ‘one of the most accomplished gentlemen in England’.21 As a trustee of the British Museum, he promoted its interests in the House. In the ensuing session he was one of the secret committee on the Bank. He voted with opposition on the Windsor establishment and royal household bills, 22, 25 Feb. and 19 Mar. 1819 also for criminal law reform, 2 Mar., against Admiralty salaries, 18 Mar., against delays in Chancery, 20 May, and against the navy estimates. He supported reform of the Scottish burghs, 1 Apr., and the extension of the franchise at Penryn, 22 June. His vote against Catholic relief on 3 May was disallowed, as he came in late. He stood by ministers on 29 Mar. and 18 May in hard-pressed divisions and also supported the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June. On 1 July he carried a resolution laying down the mode of accounting for public works. In December he was a spokesman for repressive legislation, ‘essential to the maintenance of our liberties and to the salvation of the state’. After staying in town to the end, he yet doubted whether the Acts went far enough. The danger came from ‘this new state of knowledge’ which arose from popular education.22 Lady Shelley wrote of him, 23 Nov. 1819: ‘Bankes is all for economy, and yet for severity in the Game Laws, and for arbitrary power in every way. Canning said the other day, that Bankes’ ideal government would be a cheap tyranny.’23 He would not have agreed, but he was certainly not a happy politician. Grattan aptly described him as ‘a political dry bob always in a state of irritation but never coming to a crisis’.24 It was doubtless his wish to be remembered as ‘one who endeavoured throughout a long public life, faithfully and honestly to fulfil the functions of an independent representative’.25 He died 17 Dec. 1834.


known Dorset lawyer, has left a $40 million estate to the National Trust, the independent foundation dedicated to preserving Britain's heritage.

The bequest, the largest single gift the trust has received, includes 16,000 acres of farmland, an elegant 17th-century mansion containing one of the country's finest private art collections and the ruins of Corfe Castle, a historic fortress near the English Channel, parts of which are at least 900 years old.

''When the estate is opened to the public, it will certainly become one of the major attractions on the South Coast,'' said Warren Davis, a spokesman for the National Trust. ''The nation owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Mr. Bankes.''

The Bankes estate, which has scarcely changed in 300 years, is a good example of the preservation of private wealth within a single family of England's landed gentry.

Kingston Lacy, the magnificent Italianate mansion that houses the art collection - and which was also Henry Bankes's home until his death last August - was built in the 1660's by Sir Ralph Bankes, an ancestor. It was a family home, intended to replace Corfe Castle, the hilltop fortress from which the Bankeses had been displaced by forces opposed to King Charles I.

Sir Ralph's father, Sir John Bankes, was Charles's Attorney General, and while he was off with the King resisting the rebellion that ultimately led to the King's execution and the ascent of Oliver Cromwell, Lady Bankes successfully defended the castle against a three-year siege from the valleys. After she finally gave in in 1646, Parliament ordered the castle demolished. The ruins that still stand are most impressive, and they are steeped in history that goes well beyond the Bankes family. There is even a legend, no more than that, that at the entrance to the castle in the year 978 King Edward the Martyr was murdered on the order of his stepmother so that her son, Ethelred the Unready, could assume the throne.

Kingston Lacy, the three-story mansion that the Bankes family built 12 miles north of their ruined castle, is a classic Restoration country house, with a formal garden and gentle meadows beyond. In the 19th century, Sir Charles Barry, the architect, cased its original brick facade in gray stone and made extensive interior alterations.

Many of the present treasures of the house date from its earliest days, including Van Dyck portraits of Charles I and his wife, rescued from Corfe Castle before it was sacked, and portraits of Sir Ralph and his family by Sir Peter Lely.

Over the generations squires of the manor added to the collection of paintings, which now fill the walls of five stately galleries. There are works by Titian, Rubens, Murillo, Velazquez, Romney, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Holbein and Tintoretto, worth millions of dollars.

The house was opened to the public in 1953 but abruptly closed in 1968. That its stunning collection will now be open permanently illustrates the value to Britain of the National Trust, which has developed beyond the greatest hopes of the little group of publicspirited people who founded it 87 years ago as a means of defending the unspoiled countryside against the spread of dirty industrial towns of the Victorian era.

The original idea, as explained by Octavia Hill, a social reformer of the period and one of the founders of the trust, was ''to provide open-air sitting rooms for the poor.'' Its first acquisition was typical - four and a half acres of beautiful cliff land overlooking Cardigan Bay in North Wales.

For the first few decades of the trust's existence it scarcely occurred to anyone that it would one day be called upon to save the great private residences in the countryside as well as the countryside itself, since that was still the heyday of the stately homes. But by the 1930's taxes, changing patterns in agriculture and reductions in the supply of domestic servants began leading to the destruction of some of the grand old houses built in the preceding two centuries, and the trust jumped in to save them.

It now owns more than 80 country houses of the Kingston Lacy type, plus 20 castles and two dozen houses that are important because of the people (Carlyle, Churchill, Disraeli and Wordsworth, for example) who lived in them.

With half a million acres of land, much of it unspoiled countryside in which the public is free to wander, the trust has become the largest landowner in Britain after the state and the Crown.

The largest share of its $50 million annual budget - 30 percent - comes from the individual donations of its million private supporters. On the expenditure side, 60 percent goes for repairs and maintenance of properties, many of which come to it in imminent danger of collapsing.

Kingston Lacy, for example, is infected with dry rot and its art treasures are badly in need of general cleaning and restoration. In recent years the trust has learned a good deal about the preservation of such properties - the rule that the sunlight must be kept out, for instance, which often necessitates rewiring so there will be enough light.

Even after such initial work is done, the trust will need an income of more than $100,000 a year just to keep the house going. To get the capital to generate that income, it is expected to sell off some of the less desirable property that came with the Bankes bequest, where its farmlands run into the urban sprawl from the city of Bournemouth. The trust has a rule of not accepting property that cannot be made self-supporting.

It will also refuse any property that is not ''of real historic or architectural interest.'' But Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy, one steeped in English history, the other resplendent, easily meet that test. 'ɻy leaving a great estate like this to us,'' Mr. Davis said at the trust office, ''Mr. Bankes has preserved it forever as a legacy for the nation.''

Kingston Lacy, Dorset, England

Kingston Lacy is a country house and estate near Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England, now owned by the National Trust. From the 17th to the late 20th centuries it was the family seat of the Bankes family, who had previously resided nearby at Corfe Castle until its destruction in the English Civil War after its incumbent owners, Sir John Bankes and Dame Mary joined the side of Charles I. They owned some 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) of the surrounding Dorset countryside and coastline.[1]


The grounds on which the house stands originally formed part of a royal estate within the manor of Wimborne. The original house, greatly developed in the medieval period, stood to the north of the current house and was used as a hunting lodge, with an accompanying deer park to its northwest. Leased to those in favour of the crown, these included the Lords de Lacys, Earls of Lincoln, who held it together with Shapwick and Blandford. By the 15th century the property was leased to John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, whose daughter Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, was brought up at Kingston Lacy.[2]

In the 17th century Corfe Castle was demolished by order of parliament

By the 16th century the house was in ruins. In 1603 King James I gave the lands to Sir Charles Blount, whose son later sold the estate to Sir John Bankes in 1636, who in 1634 had been appointed Attorney General to King Charles I.[3] Sir John was born in Cumberland, but through his extensive legal works had acquired the Corfe Castle estate. During the English Civil War from 1642, the Bankes remained loyal to the crown, resulting in the death of Sir John in Oxford in 1644, and after two sieges defended by Mary Bankes, the ruination of Corfe Castle in 1645 after two Parliamentarian sieges.[2] In March 1645 Parliament voted to slight (demolish) Corfe Castle, giving it its present appearance. As it provided a ready supply of building material, its stones were reused by the local impoverished villagers to rebuild their own homes.[4]


After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the Bankes family regained their properties. Rather than rebuild the ruined Corfe Castle, eldest son Ralph Bankes chose to build a new house on their other Dorset estate near Wimborne Minster.

In 1663, Ralph commissioned Sir Roger Pratt to design a new property to be known as Kingston Hall on the current site, based on Clarendon House which Ralph had visited several times. Construction of the red brick building started that same year, and was completed by 1665. The building has two main floors, plus a basement and an attic floor lit by dormer windows. The lead-covered hipped roof has a central flat section, surrounded by a balustrade with a cupola rising from its centre. The house is entered from the north through a later mid-19th century porte-cochère, whist to the south a central door leads to a stone-flagged terrace extending the full width of the building. The east facade has a triple-arched loggia with access to the garden, while the west accesses the later 18th century laundry and kitchen garden.[2]

The interiors were influenced by Inigo Jones, but executed by his heir John Webb, confirmed many years later when the National Trust discovered Webb's plan during their formal takeover of the estate.[1] Sited centrally within the 164 hectares (410 acres) grounds, externally the new house was provided with 5 hectares (12 acres) of formal gardens and pleasure grounds, some of which were enclosed by walls, while a series of formal avenues radiated throughout the surrounding 159 hectares (390 acres) of park lands.[2]


After the death of Sir Ralph in 1677, the house was leased by his widow from 1686 and 1688 to the Duke of Ormonde. John Bankes the Elder regained the property in 1693, and with his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Henry Parker of Honington Hall, Warwickshire completed the majority of his fathers original development plan. After passing to his second son Henry in 1772, he remodelled the house, built a new servants wing, and enclosed the parkland for better agricultural management use.[2] The 1784 Enclosure Act allowed Henry Bankes the Younger, the grandson of Ralph Bankes, to create the current estate and park lands footprint. This allowed him to: remove the hamlet of Kingston, situated adjacent to the 16th century Keeper's Lodge diverted the B3082 Blandford Road convert the former agricultural land to parkland. He undertook some further minor alterations in the 1820s, before he became an MP for the rotten borough of Corfe. He was a trustee for the British Museum and its parliamentary advocate, and some of his collections which were once part of the house, now reside in the Museum.[1] Bankes often entertained his friends Pitt the Younger and the Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington at the house.[1]

His son, the explorer and adventurer William John Bankes commissioned his friend Charles Barry (later Sir Charles Barry, known for his re-visioning works on the Palace of Westminster), to encase the red brick Hall, and enlarge his other property Soughton Hall. The house, which was now to be formally known as Kingston Lacy, was extensively remodelled by Barry between 1835 and 1838: faced the brick with Chilmark stone added a tall chimney to each corner and lowered the ground level on one side, exposing the basement level and forming a new principal entrance. He also planted Lime tree avenues along the Blanford Road, of which today some 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) survive.[2]

William John Bankes provided most of the antiquities that currently form part of the house's collections. He travelled extensively to the Middle East and the Orient, collecting the largest individual collection of Egyptian antiques in the world.[1] Most notable is the Philae obelisk, which he brought back and which now stands prominently in the grounds of the house. He also acquired in Genoa, Italy the portrait of Maria Di Antonio Serra, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, painted on the occasion of her marriage to Duke Nicolo Pallavicini in 1606. In 1841, after being caught in a homosexual scandal that could have resulted in a trial and his death, William John fled the country for Italy. He continued to return items that he collected to the house, and is rumoured to have returned to the house occasionally to view his collection, until his death in Venice in 1855.

During William John's absence the estate had been managed by his brother, Canon George Bankes, who inherited the estate on his brothers death, but a year before his own in 1857. His youngest grandson Walter Ralph inherited the estate in 1869, who in later life married Henrietta, and had a son Henry John Ralph Bankes. On Walter's death in 1902, his widow undertook the last major developments to the existing estate, including: construction of the church (1907) new entrance lodges (1912-13) and numerous estate cottages.[2] In 1923 control passed to Ralph Bankes, the seven times great-grandson of the original creator Sir Ralph Bankes. During World War II an extensive military encampment was established in the south-east quarter of the park, which was only restored after the National Trust took ownership.[2]

Upon his death in 1981, Ralph bequeathed the Kingston Lacy estate (including 12 working farms and Corfe Castle) to the National Trust, its largest bequest to date.[1]


On display in the house is an important collection of fine art and antiquities built up by many generations of the Bankes family. One of the rooms, the Spanish room (named by reason of the Murillo paintings which hang there), has walls hung with gilded leather. It was recently restored at a cost of several hundred thousand pounds over a 5-year period. Other important collections include paintings of the family stretching back over 400 years. Other artworks include works by Velázquez, Van Dyck, Titian and Brueghel. Aside from the Spanish Room, the library is the most atmospheric of rooms, upon the wall of which are hung the huge keys of the destroyed Corfe Castle, handed back to Mary Bankes after her defence of Corfe Castle during the Civil War. The state bedroom is extremely ornate and has featured such important guests as Kaiser Wilhelm II who stayed with the family for a week in 1907. The main staircase is beautifully carved from stone and features three huge statues which look out onto the gardens from their seats. These depict Sir John Bankes and Lady Bankes, the defenders of Corfe Castle, and their patron, Charles I.

Within the estate are Badbury Rings (an Iron Age hill fort) and the Roman road from Dorchester to Old Sarum. Architecturally there are several huge stone gates which stand at entrances to the Lacy estate. The house and gardens are open to the public and in 2011 received 234,124 visitors.[5]

^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Kingston Lacy. The National Trust. 2005. ^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j Historic England. "Kingston Lacy (1000718)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 July 2015. Jump up ^ Brooks 2004 Jump up ^ Cantor 1987, pp. 93� Jump up ^ Dorset County Council: Visitor numbers at selected attractions 2002-2011 Pitt-Rivers, Michael, 1968. Dorset. London: Faber & Faber. THE EXILED COLLECTOR by Anne Sebba. Biography of William John Bankes. ISBN 0-7195-6571-5

BANKES, Ralph (c.1630-77), of Kingston Lacy, Dorset.

b. c.1630, 2nd s. of Sir John Bankes, c.j.c.p. 1641-4, of Corfe Castle, Dorset by Mary, da. of Ralph Hawtrey of Ruislip, Mdx. educ. G. Inn 1656. m. 11 Apr. 1661, Mary, da. and h. of John Brune of Athelhampton, Dorset, 1s. 1da. suc. bro. c.1653 kntd. 27 May 1660.1

Offices Held

Gent. of the privy chamber (extraordinary) June 1660-?d.2

J.p. Dorset July 1660-d., Mdx. Aug. 1660-70 dep. lt. Dorset July 1660-72, 1674-d. commr. for assessment, Dorset Aug. 1660-74, Carm. and Westminster 1673-4 ld. lt. Isle of Purbeck 1661-d. gov. Brownsea Castle 1661-d. freeman, Lyme Regis and Poole 1662 commr. for corporations, Dorset 1662-3, foreshore 1662, oyer and terminer, Western circuit 1665, recusants, Dorset 1675.3


Bankes’s father, of Cumberland origin, entered Parliament in 1624. A lawyer and royal official, he acquired control of Corfe Castle by purchasing the manor in 1635. His estates in Dorset and elsewhere were valued at £1,780 p.a. by the committee for compounding, but the Purbeck lands alone were worth at least another £200 p.a. He was one of the most moderate and respected of Charles I’s supporters in the Civil War. His wife was the heroine of the siege of Corfe Castle, when she repulsed the parliamentary forces under Sir Walter Erle.4

Bankes was first returned to Richard Cromwell’s Parliament for Corfe Castle and was thus eligible at the general election of 1660. He was duly re-elected but was not active in the Convention. He probably sat on nine committees, the most important of which dealt with the printing of unauthorized Anglican works. His inclusion among the Members chosen to raise a loan in the City shows that his credit was still good, in spite of losses by plunder and fines. Brought up in a devout Anglican household, he was noted by Lord Wharton as an opponent. But a week after his re-election in 1661, he married an heiress worth £1,200 p.a., though she was the daughter of a parliamentary colonel and herself became a Roman Catholic. Though never prominent in the House he was moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, being named to 70 committees. In the first session he was appointed to those for the security, corporations and regicides bills. His activity diminished during the period 1663-5 when his new house at Kingston Lacy was under construction nevertheless he served on the committee for the first conventicles bill. His estates bordering on Poole Harbour and his membership of the commission of the foreshore gave him a personal interest in the committee for reclaiming marshlands. In the 1667 session he was named to the committees to inquire into the charges against Lord Mordaunt and to set up a public accounts commission. He participated in an examination of the militia laws, in which his first concern would have been to protect the autonomous status of Purbeck. This may have provided Lord Ashley (Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper) with an excuse for dropping Bankes from the lieutenancy in 1672 the two families had long been embroiled over the enclosure of Holt chase.5

Bankes was noted in 1669 as a supporter of the Court, to be influenced by the Duke of York. He was named to the committee for the continuation of the Conventicles Act but about this time his financial difficulties began to overwhelm him. Besides the cost of his splendid new home, his will suggests that he was an ardent collector of books, maps, pictures, medals, curiosities and antiquities to adorn it. He sold his wife’s inheritance in 1670, and in the following year conveyed the rest of his land to trustees, who included Robert Coker, Henry Whitaker and his steward Anthony Ettrick. The trustees successfully promoted two private bills, one to clear the title of some Welsh property which they intended to sell, the other to rationalize the estate by exchanging land with a neighbour. The preservation of his property was now uppermost in Bankes’s mind, and it is not surprising that his last committee should have been concerned with river fishing, since he owned the royalty over an extensive stretch of some of the best stocked and most lucrative water in Dorset. His debts now totalled £11,780 (including £2,000 to George Pitt), and his income was insufficient to pay the interest and other charges. He died on 25 Mar. 1677 while endeavouring to arrange further sales. The family’s difficulties were successfully tided over, and his son sat for Corfe Castle from 1698 to his death.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris


This article is based on the Bankes mss at Kingston Lacy, which have been seen by kind permission of Mr H. J. R. Bankes.

Kingston Lacy, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

This collection has 15,215 items online

Kingston Lacy houses the oldest established gentry collection of paintings in Britain, with works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Tintoretto. Kingston Lacy houses the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK. There is an extraordinary ivory-inlaid and ivory-mounted rosewood cabinet on stand – one of the finest examples of Visakhapatnam furniture in any English collection. The magnificent family library, one of the Trust's largest early collections, includes roughly 1450 pre-1801 books, including the magnificent Jean de Planche binding for Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510–79).

Mary Hawtrey, Lady Bankes (1598-1661) (after John Hoskins)

Henry Pierce Bone (Islington 1779 - 1855)

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

The Judgement of Solomon

Sebastiano del Piombo (Venice c.1485 - Rome 1547)

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Marchesa Maria Serra Pallavicino (?)

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 - Antwerp 1640)

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Probably Marchesa Maria Grimaldi and an Attendant

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 - Antwerp 1640)

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Apollo crowning a Poet and joining him with a Consort, witnessed by Hercules and by four other .

Jacopo Tintoretto (Venice 1518 - Venice 1594)

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

The Separation of Night from Day

Guido Reni (Bologna 1575 – Bologna 1642)

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Theatrum vitae humanae.

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)


Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Tulip vase

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)


Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)


Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Secrétaire à abattant

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Cabinet on stand

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Bürgermeister's chair

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

Ms receipt

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

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Make William John Bankes a character of your novel

William John Banks is great to use as a minor character in your novel, as he was rich, adventurous, quick-witted and a favourite of the polite society. Here are some more facts about him:

  • In 1806, being only 20 years old, he had an income of £8,000 a year (over £350,000 in modern terms) (3).
  • He had auburn, curled hair, an angular face and a small mouth.
  • He had an easy charm and was highly intelligent, but he was also loquacious, touchy, and arrogant (5). Further character traits were a dangerous temper, a penchant for risk and a lack of self-restraint (1).
  • Among his many talents were fluency in Italian, copying ancient inscriptions and an excellent understanding of architecture and epigraphy. One of his main hobby-horses was the history and culture of Egypt and the deciphering of ancient hieroglyphs (2).
  • He proposed to Miss Annabella Milbanke in 1812. However, she refused him. Byron burst out laughing when William told him about his unsuccessful proposal. Miss Milbanke, however, refused Byron in 1812, too (5).
  • If you want to be historically correct about William’s whereabouts in the Regency period, check the dates of his travels carefully before employing him for a scene: He began his travels in 1813, spending some time in Portugal and Spain until 1814. Between 1815 and 1819 he explored Egypt, Nubia and the Sinai (6).
  • During the Napoleonic Wars, he was informally attached to the Duke of Wellington’s camp (we remember: The Duke was a friend of the family). William also took advantage of the turmoil created by war to acquire works of art at prices well below their normal value (3). He also was very interested in discovering the new talents of the Spanish art scene rather than favouring the popular masters (7).
  • With regards to politics, William was a Tory. He opposed the Catholic emancipation and the reform of the electoral system (3). In 1810, he joined his father in Parliament until 1812. After his years of travel he represented various boroughs. He stayed in politics until 1834 (1).
  • In the early 1820s, he helped Lady Caroline Lamb writing the novel “Ada Reis“ (2).
  • Until the 1830ies, Kingston Lacy actually was called Kingston Hall. William renamed it, replacing “Hall” by “Lacy”, the family name of the medieval tenants of the original estate.

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