From your bedroom window you look out across paddocks and woods; at night the only noise could be a hooting owl or the munching of grazing horses. We offer one bedroom, which means that you will be the only visitors staying; there is plenty of parking and lawn to walk around.

The Bedroom: Large bright and airy room with views across paddocks to the woods. One double Victorian bed and one single divan bed; while the room is not en-suite the bathroom is three paces from the bedroom door, with guests of the room having exclusive use.

The Bathroom: Bath, shower, wash-basin and lavatory.

The house has the kitchen-table and AGA (plus Humphrey, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) at its heart: we like things warm and comfortable without being fussy, with Sarah insisting on making the bread and marmalade for breakfast. There is wi-fi and mobile-phone reception, and being dog-lovers we happily accommodate the dogs of our guests.

Nearby is the 18-hole Rushmore golf-course, set in rolling parkland, while there are plenty of bridle-ways, footpaths, tracks and lanes for riding, walking and cycling. We have half-a-dozen delightful walks that start from the front-door, some taking you to an award-winning pub: in the village there is The King John while The Museum is a half-hour walk to the next village, Farnham. All local pubs are dog-friendly.

For riders (horses and cyclists) and walkers the opportunities are both short and long: there are ancient woodlands, springy downland turf or ‘the high country’ ox-droves with distant vistas. In addition Jasper offers guided walks.

From the house there are a surprising amount of places you can visit within an hour’s radius: to the north there is Bath, Stourhead, and Wells; to the west, Sherborne and Shaftesbury; to south-west Ringstead beach and others along the Jurassic Coast, Hardy Country, Maiden Castle and Dorchester; and to the south and east, The New Forest, Salisbury and Stonehenge.

As for your hosts, Sarah uses her knowledge of paint effects to paint furniture while Jasper works in international flora and fauna conservation: both have travelled widely, including lots of first-hand knowledge of B and B’s both home and abroad.

Cost: £85 for the use of the double-bed only, £55 for single occupancy and £20 for the additional use of the divan.

Dogs and horses: Most welcome.

Being animal-lovers we welcome dogs: for the benefit of everyone dogs must be confined to the bedroom during sleeping hours, and under the supervision of their owners at all times (no puppies please; and it would be appreciated if you would bring a cage if your dog is unreliable). There is a £10 charge.

Bed and Breakfast: £85.00 for the use of the double-bed only.

Bed and Breakfast: £60.00 for single occupancy.

Bed and Breakfast: £20.00 for the additional use of the divan.

Mobile: 07779171851 (Sarah)


Address: Park Farm House, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire. SP5 5PU.

From Salisbury: Take the A354 to Blandford and after approximately 10 miles take a right-hand turn at a round-about signed ‘Shaftesbury’ and ‘Sixpenny Handley’. Drive through Sixpenny Handley (approximately a mile from the round-about) continue for three miles until you come the Tollard Royal sign. Keep going until you come to the village pond on the right; immediately turn sharp left and up a steep hill (with a war memorial on the right). Over the brow of the hill the road flattens out and continues round a right-hand bend; continue for another 100 yards and Park Farm House is on the left – the only house so you cannot miss it, with the name on a five-bar gate.

Coming from the A303 (in the Exeter direction):  Turn off and take the A350 to Shaftesbury; here you follow signs to Salisbury and the A30, including at a large roundabout (with The Chase Hotel on the left); take first left off the roundabout, signed to Salisbury/A30. Drive for approximately three miles until you come to a village called Ludwell. Drive down into the village and up the other side: three-quarters of the way up you see a sign ‘Tollard Royal’ to the right – take it.

After about half a mile the road goes up a steep hill and the road flattens after which you come to a junction. Take the left-hand turn signed to ‘Tollard Royal’ and drive along for a mile and half when you will see a fork to the right saying ‘Tollard Green’ – take it, taking care to watch for oncoming traffic as the bend is semi-blind. Proceed for a mile and a half until you come to the first road sign, which says ‘Tollard Green’ to the left: take that and proceed down lane for a mile until you come to the Tollard Park Livery Yard on the right: go past and proceed for 100 yards and Park Farm House is on the right.

Coming from Salisbury (via Wilton): Take the A30 to Shaftesbury. After approximately ten miles you arrive at the village of Ludwell. With the road starting to go down, take the sign left to ‘Tollard Royal’: then as per the instructions in 2 (above).

Guided Walks:As a keen historian Jasper has researched the area in some depth; he has combined this historical knowledge with places where this is meaningfully combined with walks: not only around the Cranborne Chase and surrounding downland, but also slightly further afield such as to the Martin Down Nature Reserve, or the ‘Two Giants Footsteps’ walk that explores the country around Bowerchalke that inspired Nobel Literature prize winner, William Golding, and his neighbour, Professor James Lovelock, the founder of the Gaia movement.

Those keen to walk in the footsteps of Thomas Hardy should access the Hardy Society web-site (,  then click on ‘Resources’, then click on ‘Walks’.

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Cycle Hire: Hayball’s, Salisbury: 01722 411 378

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Stately Homes: Location     Distance
Stourhead + garden Mere 15     miles
Wilton House + garden Wilton 15     miles
Mompesson House Salisbury 15    miles
Athelhampton + garden Dorchester 20    miles
Minterne + garden Dorchester/Yeovil 35    miles
Heale House + garden Salisbury 15    miles
Breamore House + garden Salisbury/Fordingbridge 20    miles
Kingston Lacy Wimborne 25    miles
Longleat House Warminster 25    miles

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Homes of famous people: Location     Distance
Clouds Hill (TE Lawrence)         Bovingdon 20     miles
Max Gate (Thomas Hardy)         Dorchester 30     miles

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Historic Gardens:     Distance
Cranborne Manor:             Fascinating with surprises (Wednesdays) 10    miles
Minterne House:             Sherborne (garden only) 30    miles

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Garden Centres:     Distance
Cranborne Manor, Cranborne Excellent/roses speciality 10    miles
Wolvercroft, Fordingbridge Wide-ranging/ functional 10    miles
Wilton House, Wilton Wide-ranging 12    miles

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Farm Shops:     Distance
Home Farm, Tarrant Gunville + cafe Extenstive; interesting 10    miles
Long Crichel Bakery, Crichel Award-winning bread 10    miles
Udder  Farm Shop, Stour Provost  + cafe Extensive 12    miles
Ansty, Ansty (near Shaftesbury) + café Extensive and PYO 10    miles

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Farmers Markets: Up-to-date information


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Places of Interest: (Dorset)

TankMuseum, Bovingdon.

Hardy’s study in DorchesterMuseum.

Abbotsbury: swannery and gardens.

Hardy’s Monument.



Springhead Trust, Fontmell.

Cerne Abbas Giant.


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Places of Interest:  (South west Wilts)

Alfred’s Tower.

Salisbury Cathedral.



Duke of Monmouth’s Ash.

Longleat House.

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Max Gate.




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Dorset Wildlife Trust

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

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Arne Reserve.

Portland Observatory.

Martin Down Reserve.

Liberty’s Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre, Ringwood.

Hawk Conservancy, Weyhill (near Andover).

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Mammals: Badger Watch:

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Fishing: Fly Fishing:

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Something different . . . . .

Hot-air balloons: Contact Cameron Flights Southern (0845 4564202): a popular take-off spot is the LarmerTreeGardens, just round the corner from Park Farm House.

Fixed-wing experience: Just a few miles from Park Farm House is Compton Abbas airfield. You can buy an ‘experience flight’: fly over the beautiful scenery plus take the controls either in a covered Piper Warrior, an Ikarus sport-plane, or an open-cockpit Tiger Moth. For full details please see:

‘Wings & Wheels’ Day: Day starts at Compton Abbas airfield; ride motorcycle pillion with a qualified instructor for a day’s tour around the local area, including the JurassicCoast, or your location request. Lunch (included) at the airfield restaurant. In the afternoon you fly in a light aircraft around the local area to complete the day’s activities. If you would like photographs of your day this can be arranged. Full details please see: www.

Motorcycling (Advanced Training): Advanced courses can take between 2 to 5 days; designed to incorporate a tour of your choice; by the end of the course you will feel more confident using your motorcycle to its full potential:

Motorcycling (Back to Biking): Designed for anyone re-starting motorcycling after a long break.

On Safari: ‘Off the beaten track’ in west Dorset by Land-Rover.

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Fossicking: Where to find knick-knacks:

Antiques Centres:

Salisbury The Antiques Centre.
Wincanton The Green Dragon Antiques Centre.

Reclamation and Auctions:

Wilton              Smaller than some but interesting.
Semley (near Tisbury)              Smaller than some but interesting.
Bere Regis                                   Wide selection.
Wells                                           The ‘big daddy’, old/new: spend a day !
Bath                                             Walcot Architectural Salvage.
Sherborne Charterhouse.
Wimborne George Kidner.
Dorchester Duke’s.
Crewkerne Lawrences’

Arts and Crafts ‘hotspots’:

Bridport: Slader’s Yard
Warminster:                                 Bull Mill Arts
Wimborne: Walford Mill


Location:                     Name:                   Type:             Distance
Tollard Royal King John Gastro pub 1/2 mile
Farnham The Museum Gastro pub 2 miles
Berwick St John The Talbot Old pub/eating 5 miles
Chettle The Castleman Hotel/eating 3 miles
Shaftesbury Chutney’s Indian 7 miles
Donhead St Andrew The Forester Gastro pub 7 miles
Ebbesbourne Wake The Horseshoe Old pub/eating 10 miles
Tisbury Beckford Arms Gastro pub 10 miles

. . . .  and further afield, something different!

Corscombe The Fox Old pub/eating 35 miles
Cattistock Fox and Hounds Inn Old pub/eating 30 miles
Powerstock Three Horsehoes Inn Old pub/eating 30 miles
Sandbanks ShellBay Café Fish speciality 25 miles
West Bay/Bridport HiveBeach Café Fish speciality 30 miles
West Bay/Bridport Riverside Restaurant Fish speciality 30 miles
Portland Crab House Café Oysters, crabs 30 miles
Portland Bluefish Café Modern fusion 30 miles
Weymouth Crab House Café Fish speciality 30 miles
Brockenhurst The Pig Casual/chic in 30 miles
Queens Arms Corton Denham Gastro pub 30 miles
Stapleton Arms Buckhorn Weston Gastro pub 25  miles


The ‘chase’ was originally designated for the exclusive pleasure of the monarch for their hunting, rent collection and sale of produce, beginning when it was a favourite hunting location of King John (1199-1216): he acquired the Cranborne Chase following his marriage to Avisa, daughter of the Earl of Gloucester who had been the previous owner of the ‘chase’.

In its hey-day the Cranborne Chase had a 80 mile circumference, divided into the ‘Inner Bounds’ and ‘Outer Bounds’, that took in three counties. ‘Chase’ laws were called ‘vert and venison’, the former referring to the timber and the latter to the deer, wild boar and other edible wildlife. Until the seventeenth century the monarch had absolute control, after which it was passed on to powerful landowners.

On December 16, 1780 two opposing groups of men carrying an assortment of wooden staves and heavily loaded flails met in a corner of Cranborne Chase. Following the clash one man died and several others were badly injured and the episode has entered local history as ‘The Battle of the Bloody Shard Gate’: one group were the ‘keepers’ of the Cranborne Chase who were enforcing ‘vert and venison’ and the other group local poachers (the location is half an hour’s walk from the Park Farm House).

Today the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covers 379 square miles (980 km2) of DorsetHampshireSomerset and Wiltshire and is the sixth largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England. It is a time-line through British history: whether it is a piece of straight road from the Roman occupation, or mysterious mounds and dells that hint of forgotten ages, history’s touch is never far away.

Tollard Royal gets its name from the time when King John held an annual court in his hunting lodge, King John House, which can be seen today behind the church.

Just to the north of Tollard Royal is the Rushmore estate, historically most associated with Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers (1827-1900), often referred to as the ‘father’ of English archaeology. After fighting in the Crimean War, the general found fame as a scientist and archaeologist through excavating earthworks near his home Rushmore House (now a prep school) and Estate.

He built a private museum in Farnham, 3 miles away, to house his models and local collections; after this closed in the 1960s most of the exhibits went to OxfordUniversity, although you can see scale models, drawings and artefacts in the Salisbury and SouthWiltshireMuseum in Salisbury.

The general also created a deer-park and ornamental parkland where today the golf-course is located, and carried out a wide variety of landscape planting schemes including what are now spectacular beech avenues and belts. There are a myriad of public foot-paths over the Rushmore estate, all giving access to some of the most beautiful and historic parkland and woodlands in Britain.

The general also developed the LarmerTreePleasureGardens as a visitor attraction which today contain a unique collection of buildings including a temple and theatre, a dell water garden, Nepalese buildings and an interesting collection of trees and shrubs.

The gardens are named after the Larmer Tree, a landmark tree on the ancient boundary between Wiltshire and Dorset: the tree was an ancient Wych Elm under which King John and his entourage met when hunting and later became the focus of a sheep fair. The original tree was still living as late as 1894, around which time it was replaced by an oak which was planted in the centre of the decayed rim.

The preservation and restoration of the estate’s heritage is largely due to the enthusiasm of the general’s great-grandson Michael Lane Fox Pitt Rivers, the owner of Rushmore from the 1950’s until 1999. During this time there was a steady renovation of estate farms and domestic dwellings and a programme of restoration to re-vitalise the landscape and re-create the species-rich grassland formerly associated with the park.

One evening while Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma were staying with the Pitt Rivers at Rushmore an annual sports day was held at the Larmer Tree Gardens followed by a night-time dance, which the great writer ‘led off’ by dancing with the general’s daughter, Agnes, and later writing about how ‘the wide-faced moon looked through the boughs at the faery lamps of the Larmer avenue’.

As well as a number of guide-books covering ‘walking in Hardy country’, quite apart from the biographies and literary appreciations, there are also maps that superimpose Hardy’s place-names (e.g: ‘Melchester’ is Salisbury) on the real places.

There is also an active Thomas Hardy Society with a very comprehensive web-site:, from which all the Hardy novels can be downloaded, while here is a small excerpt of their summary of the great writer: ‘Hardy’s literary reputation – his fame and fortune – was based entirely upon his appeal as a novelist. Widespread public acclaim came with his fourth novel Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) – sufficient to allow him to abandon his architectural career in favour of the less certain path of a writer of imaginative fiction. Over the ensuing twenty years he published a further ten novels, variably received at the time. However in his final five novels – a sequence beginning with The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) – he found his mature voice, producing fiction which upset Mrs Grundy and in one case (Jude) was burnt by a bishop but which ensured his place in the premier league of English novelists’.

(Those keen to walk in the footsteps of the great author should access the Hardy Society web-site, click on ‘Resources’ and then clock on ‘Walks’).

On 4 September 1895, while Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma were staying with the Pitt Rivers at Rushmore an annual sports day was held at the Larmer Tree Gardens followed by a night-time dance. Hardy ‘led off’ the country dancing with Agnes Grove, Pitt Rivers’ youngest daughter and the wife of Sir Walter Grove, another old local family. Agnes later became a literary pupil of Hardy’s, and after her death in 1926 Hardy wrote the poem Concerning Agnes, reflecting on the night they first met. The first two stanzas read:

I am stopped from hoping what I have hoped before

Yes many a time!

To dance with that fair woman yet once more

As in the prime

Of August, when the wide-faced moon looked through

The boughs at the faery lamps of the Larmer Avenue

I could not, though I should wish, have over again

That old romance,

And sit apart in the shade as we sat then

After the dance

The while I held her hand, and, to the booms

Of contrabassos, feet still pulsed from the distant rooms

‘Born into a long line of farmers it was natural for me to continue in the family tradition. However, I discovered at an early age my true vocation was in trying to unravel the mysterious past which lay all around me’, wrote Martin Green in A Landscape Revealed: 10,000 Years on a Chalkland Farm (2000) a comprehensive and fascinating overview of what he and others discovered at Down Farm, Gussage St Michael.

Writing about his passion for archaeology Martin Green acknowledges how visits to the Pitt Rivers displays in the Salisbury Museum were such a source of inspiration; and just as Martin Green was fortunate to have his own farm to feed his passion for archaeology so Pitt Rivers (1827-1900) was fortunate to have inherited at the age of 53 a vast fortune and 27,000 acres attached to Rushmore Park. On his death Pitt Rivers’ ashes were placed in an extended urn at the rear of the St Peter ad Vincula church (13th century) in Tollard Royal.

Not for Pitt Rivers the pursuit of field-sports traditional for landed gentry: ‘I determined to devote the remaining portion of my life chiefly to an examination of the antiquities on my property’, he wrote, having already conducted field-work in Denmark, Ireland and Sussex. So it is from this life’s work that Pitt Rivers has been hailed as the ‘father of modern archaeology’.

Within weeks of inheriting the Rushmore property Pitt Rivers had instigated a number of digs around the park, notably at the South Lodge, while the first full season’s work took place from October 1881- February 1882 by concentrating on the Iron Age hill-fort of Winklebury overlooking Berwick St John. Later that year Pitt Rivers became the first inspector of Ancient Monuments.

Pitt Rivers was heavily influenced by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859), seeing his existing collection of firearms, tools and appliances as the basis for understanding how culture went forward by gentle evolution not revolution. This theory contained the idea of typology: the realisation that objects can be placed in chronological sequence on the basis of slight changes in design, a crucial concept for archaeology.

Today, inevitably Pitt Rivers’ interpretation of cultural change has come under attack with history being constantly revised: but what has never been doubted is that before Pitt Rivers the study of archaeology was amateurish and haphazard. By bringing meticulous planning, digging and recording – helped by his sizeable fortune – Pitt Rivers changed the whole approach of archaeology and in the process became a bridge-builder between anthropology and archaeology, as well as an educator.

It has been estimated that Pitt Rivers owned in excess of 50,000 separate artefacts, built up not only from his diggings but also an extensive programme of purchases, which became a source of great irritation to his penny-pinching wife, Alice, the daughter of Lord Stanley of Alderley.

Due to the seasonality of farm work Pitt Rivers’ extended diggings took place through the autumn and winter period when labourers were freed from estate work, while a small army of full-time clerks were employed recording, surveying and latterly photographing.

Like many Victorians the desire to educate was strong in Pitt Rivers who built a museum on the edge of Farnham (now split into apartments known as Elham Court) and to attract these visitors he built the Larmer Tree pleasure gardens with picnic bowers, an open-air theatre, with dances, sporting contests and other attractions which in its hey-day attracted up to 40,000 people.

Pitt Rivers was also fascinated by the inter-breeding of different species of animals. In his guide to the Larmer Tree attractions Pitt Rivers wrote: ‘to those interested in breeding and acclimatization, some of the breeds in the Park and paddocks at Rushmore may be worth seeing. The fallow deer has been crossed with the Mesopotamian deer, the Japanese deer with the red deer, and these again with the Formosa deer. The Yak has been crossed with the Pembroke, the Highland Cattle, the Kerry, and the Jersey. The Zebu (Indian humped cattle) with the Jersey, producing a very fine animal, and these again with the Jersey.’

In his life-time, Pitt Rivers donated part of his collection to OxfordUniversity which forms the core of today’s PittRiversMuseum in Oxford; there are also items from his collection in the Salisbury and SouthWiltshireMuseum.

Though Augustus and Alice Pitt Rivers had nine children there are no direct descendants today; while Rushmore Park house is Sandroyd preparatory school the public can access much of the park, where time if not standing still, feels as if it has only inched forwards in small increments: which Pitt Rivers, after all, believed was always the case, with the outline of the South Lodge excavation still standing in silent tribute to the ‘father of modern archaeology’.

Meanwhile Martin Green has developed a museum of his own (a former chicken-house), focusing on archaeology, local history and geology while also increasing the biological diversity of flora and fauna on Down Farm.

Even though the rebellion by Monmouth, whose group included Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, had been quickly put to the sword following a rout at the Battle of Sedgemoor, if Monmouth had managed to get to Poole and escape to Holland, who knows what trouble he could have stirred for his uncle, James II. As it was, just over one month from landing at Lyme Regis with three ships from Holland in early June 1685, Monmouth was beheaded at Tower Hill.

Born in Rotterdam to Lucy Walter and her lover, Charles II (who was living in continental exile following his father’s execution), Monmouth spent his early life in Schiedam; he always claimed his parents were married, and that he possessed their marriage lines but he never produced them.

After landing Monmouth published a “Declaration for the defence and vindication of the protestant religion and of the laws, rights and privileges of England from the invasion made upon them, and for delivering the Kingdom from the usurpation and tyranny of us by the name of James Duke of York”: King James II responded by issuing an order for the publishers and distributors of the paper to be arrested, while Monmouth declared himself King at various places along the way including AxminsterChard, and Taunton.

After Monmouth fled following defeat at Sedgemoor, where James’s forces were led by John Churchill, later 1st Duke of Marlborough and son of Winston Churchill, squire of Minterne Magna near Sherborne, rewards were posted.

At Horton Heath Monmouth, disguised as a shepherd, was spotted by an old lady, Amy Farrant, while climbing a hedge with his last companion, a German officer named Buyse, who was soon captured; a few hours later a militiaman Henry Parkin, while searching beneath an ash tree, discovered another exhausted figure and a search of his pockets disclosed the badge of the Knight of the Garter, golden guineas and recipes for cosmetics, revealing that this was no ordinary shepherd.

Many of Monmouth’s supporters were later tried at the ‘Bloody Assizes’, headed by Judge Jeffreys, that started at Winchester on 25 August 1685, after which the court proceeded to SalisburyDorchesterTaunton, and finally Wells.

More than 1,400 prisoners were dealt with; most were sentenced to death, with some 300 either being hanged or hung, drawn and quartered. Elisabeth Gaunt had the distinction of being the last woman burnt alive in England for political crimes while Dame Alice Lyle, who lived outside Ringwood, had her sentence commuted from burning to beheading.

One of the prisoners was Monmouth’s surgeon Henry Pitman, who later wrote a short book about his desperate escape from a Caribbean penal colony that included a spell as a castaway, and gets the nod from author, Tim Severin, in Seeking Robinson Crusoe (2002), as the real-life Robinson Crusoe-figure; there has even been a suggestion that Defoe got the name ‘Robinson Crusoe’ from a gravestone while fleeing through Horton churchyard.

Today though Monmouth’s sheltering ash-tree is long-gone the approximate location is on ‘Monmouth’s Ash Farm’ which can be accessed by Public Footpath; also there are two pubs in the New Forest named ‘The Alice Lyle’ and ‘Monmouth’s Ash’.