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-   E n c o m b e   H o u s e   -  
View from south
   The view north from the larger of the lakes showing the house rear facade (once the front), which being the south face is probably the most pleasing, with the woods rising steeply up and away to the top access road from Kingston village.
   Left and west takes on a steep climb up to Swyre Head. Right and east, again a steep climb, this time up to Westhill Farm whose access road takes us back into Kingston village via South Street.
View looking south
   Sitting by the lake we can look south along the line of the lakes and stream cascading down to the sea at Freshwater Bay, via a waterfall, which is hidden beyond and below the trees and undergrowth.
   This location is so well tucked away, signposts are the only clue there is something there. If you want to escape the activity of life this is the place to come. A beautiful quiet country location with a wealth of wild life.
View of front door
   The driveway and front entrance is pleasant but masked by trees and always in the shade (it was once the back).
   The number of cars in this picture is evidence of that one day of the year when Encombe House is opened to the general public as a 'Fete/Garden Day', when stalls and sideshows, entry to the house and sale of refreshments brings in a sum of money which is given to.....    Access to the house and grounds is normally limited to such open days, and 'visitors' must remain on public footpaths and the coastal path which generally circumnavigate the estate.
   In the light of the recent sale of the house, 17 August 2002 may well be last occassion any such open day occurs.



   According to the press, Charles McVeigh, one of the longest serving and very popular merchant banker has purchased Encombe House, a grade II listed property, and it's grounds for the princely sum of 16 million. Overall the estate amounts to some 2,000 acres.
   The Scott family had called in F P D Savills, the estate agents, earlier this year to sell the house and estate for them. The asking price was reputedly 15 million, this being the fifth (not fourth - sorry) time it has been marketed in it's existence.
   The house comprises primarily, a galleried hall, library plus billiards room, a dozen bedroom suites, plus many incidental rooms and facilities.
   The estate includes beside the house, St.Aldhelms Head, Chapmans Pool, Swyre Head, 60 acres of garden, 3 lakes, not forgetting a swimming pool and a 'Grecian Temple'.


   The estate was again on the market in September 2008 for 25 million.
   It was subsequently reported (June/July), that James Gaggeros, a 49yr old Irish Guards officer has purchased for 20 million. He is an airline tycoon of the Bland Group which encompasses travel and hotel firms. Sir Richard Branson is believed to have shown an interest, as has Kylie Minogue.
   This will be the sixth time of selling in it's existence.


   On or about 950AD part of the domain of Corfe, the valley and thereabouts that is now called Encombe was given to an abbess called Aelfthryth by King Edred.

   It was known variously as Hennecumbe and Henycumbe in the 13th century, this probably translates as valley of the hens and we might assume hens were water hens/ducks, not chickens.

   After the Tudor dissolution John Zouche was granted Encombe, it having been previously leased to a John Vyncent.
   Zouche sold it on to a Thomas Arundell (sale.1), he got himself executed and lost the property to the crown.
   It was then granted to John Bourchier who sold it on to a Robert Culliford (sale.2).

   The Culliford family, who came from Colyford in Devon, quietly owned Encombe until 1734, apart from a Robert Culliford who was an MP for Wareham in the mid 17th century.
   After Robert died the family fell on hard times and were forced by parliament to sell (sale.3).

   It was purchased in 1734 by a George Pitt who gave it to his son John. They were distant relatives of William Pitt, younger and elder, who did actually spend some time there.
   The buildings and grounds at the time were quite low-key but probably to a greater degree built and improved to John Pitt's instruction, and retained much of the Cullifords efforts.
   The house proper being fully built by about 1770, it is popularly believed the house and grounds we see now were artificially levelled over many years, during both the Pitts and Scotts reigns.
   In 1774 John Pitt gained another estate, Kingston Maurward, on the death of his childless brother William. John survived until 1787 when the estate went to his son Morton.
   He was perhaps less money-minded than his father and also had an expensive wife, he found himself deeply in debt.

   Morton Pitt sold up in 1806 (sale.4), just after the death of Pitt the Younger, to Lord Eldon for the princely sum of 56,000.
   Lord Eldon, the 1st Earl, was Pitt's Lord Chancellor and needed somewhere quiet to hide away and relax.
   He started out in life as John Scott the younger son of a coal trader of Newcastle who became very successful. They were able to attend Grammar School, his brother William moved on to Corpus Christi, Oxford and John followed although he was only 15 and 6 years younger than his brother.
   Unfortunately he fell in love with a Betty Surtees whose wealthy banker father banned them from meeting. To overcome this problem they eloped to Scotland.
   It was not long however before both fathers forgave them and John was able to move on and read law. He was very successful and in 1783 entered Parliament. Under Pitt he became Solicitor-General, he was knighted, and in 1793 he became Attorney-General, in 1799 Lord Chief Justice, and in 1801 Lord Chancellor
   He had always been something of a stick-in-the-mud, having opposed Catholic emancipation, parliamentary reform, almost every suggestion of change in fact.
   In 1831, he grew so unpopular that a mob from Poole tried to attack and burn Encombe, but were thwarted.
   Lord Eldon had a family upset when his eldest daughter Elizabeth ran off with the son of his landscape gardener, Humphry Repton, she being much the elder.
   He was soon reconciled remembering he had been this route himself; he actually took him on as an employee.
   Besides work on Encombe, Eldon built the new chapel at Kingston, designed by Repton. Albeit it now superseded by Street's church it contains his monument.
   There was a serious fire in the house in 1812. Repairs were effected that included many improvements to the body of the house.
   In 1827 Lord Eldon was succeeded as Lord Chancellor by Lord Lyndhurst and able to enjoy Encombe in his retirement until his death in 1838.

   His grandson succeeded as 2nd Earl who gave some thought to progressing changes to the house suggested years before by Repton.
   At that time the valley was relatively dry and the 2nd. Earl tunnelled through the east hill installing iron pipes and reservoirs. Any surplus water now runs to the sea via a waterfall.

   It was not until some while after the 3rd Earl succeeded in 1854, when he was 8 yrs old, that changes such as the north facing entrance would occur, so that the house could be entered from the drive.
   He married in 1869 and spent some time improving the property, surviving until 1926.

   His second son Sir Ernest Scott inherited the house, and his nephew Colonel Scott inherited in 1953.
   More recent changes and room relocations have been undertaken, including an independent flat, to make the house more manageable.
   The Scott family had called in estate agents earlier in 2002 to sell the house and estate for them (sale.5).  

Encombe Memorial / Obelisk
from the east
.....left click to open in new window

then +/- to enlarge/reduce

From the east


from the south
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then +/- to enlarge/reduce

From the south

from the north
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then +/- to enlarge/reduce

From the north

This face is very weathered
and unreadable, but if you
know for certain what it DOES say,
or can actually read it,
please e-mail and tell us,
and then we can update.
We think it should be something like:-


Panorama from the house
our thanks to www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk for this picture.


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