We have reached the last day of our stay at this great site, and just as forecast the weather has started to break. We woke to light rain, which has now developed into light cloud cover with sunny spells. We plan to travel home tomorrow, so with the forecast in mind we packed the awning and bikes up last night, and decided to spend a quiet day in the immediate vicinity today. I decided to take the opportunity of describing some of the facilities and history of this site.
The grand entrance gives away that this once used to be the site of a grand house and country estate. The original manor house was built in 1821, and was originally called Sans Souci, (without a care), and it was used to offer sanctuary to the French aristocrats fleeing the guillotine.
In 1890 the house was bought by a wealthy country land owner from Oldham in Lancashire, Elliot Lees. The family had made their fortune from the Lancashire cotton industry. Lees transformed the house, adding to it and extending it. In 1905 he built the lodge at the current site entrance, and in 1907 moved a road so it would be away from the house.
During the 1914-1918 war the house was used as a military hospital, and Lady Madeline Lees was a nurse here. During the 1939-1945 war the estate was commandeered for military use as an American tank base. Just before D Day the site was bombed, and shrapnel holes can still be seen in the walls of the lodge. The current concrete drive through the caravan site was laid to support the weight of the tanks.
After the death of Sir John Lees in 1957 the whole 13 acre site was sold to Dorset Council for £10,500. The manor house was converted into a comprehensive school, and is still used for that today. The lodge and land are used for caravans and camping, and the stables and courtyard are used as a craft centre and Dylan's cafe. Caravan site customers are offered a free tea or coffee here and a free bottle of wine with a meal at the local pub, St. Peter's Finger, on the edge of the estate.
The whole site is maintained in a pristine condition. The above telephone kiosk has been converted for use as a lending library and book swap.
The main camping field for tents is just to the left of the entrance.
Chickens kept on site opposite the lodge provide a supply of fresh eggs for the site shop. Fresh baked bread is also delivered daily. Other provisions and a small range of caravan accessories are also sold in the site shop. Daily newspapers are also available.