Located about 7 miles (10 km) north-east of Dorchester, Athelhampton House is a Tudor manor reputedly haunted by an ape (!), a cooper and the Grey Lady.
It was built by Sir William Martyn in 1485 and surrounded by a 160 acres deer park. The most impressive features are the original 15th-century Great Hall and State Bedroom, and especially the formal, walled gardens.
The house stayed in the Martyn family until 1595, then successively changed hands until 1957, when it was acquired by Robert Victor Cooke. His grand-son, Patrick Cooke, and his wife have been overseeing the operation at Athelhampton since 1995.
Athelhampton's most famous ghost is that of the Martyn family's pet ape. When Nicholas Martyn died in 1595, the ape roamed the house searching for its new master only to find four surviving daughters. It is said that the animal can be heard scratching behind the panelling in the Great Chamber where it is trapped in a secret staircase.
The two other ghosts are that of a Civil War cooper tapping on barrels in the Wine Cellar, and that of the Grey Lady, which passes through the walls of the East Wing to the State and Yellow Bedrooms.
Opening Hours & Admission
Athelhampton House & Gardens are open from Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm (the house opens at 11am) between March and October, and on Sundays only (from 10:30am to dusk) the rest of the year.
Admission is £7.75 for the house & gardens or £5.50 for the gardens only. Children can enter both for free.
How to get there
Athelhampton House can be reached using bus No 187 from Dorchester (15min). Dorchester can be reached by train from Weymouth (12min, £2.60), Bournemouth (45min, £7.40) and London Waterloo (2h30min, £48 saver return).
National Express buses also connect Dorchester to London Victoria (4h, £17.50) Exeter (2h, £9.50), and Bristol (2h, £7.75).
Train timetables & reservations