Set within Somerset, on the border with Devon and Dorset, Forde Abbey has a rich and varied history spanning 900 years!

Founded as a Cistercian monastery in 1148, it remained a place of worship until Edmund Prideaux turned it into a private home in the 17th century.

Today, this private owned estate is still overwhelmingly monastic.

Of the State rooms, the Saloon is the main attraction with its Mortlake Tapetries (1620).

Based on the internationally famous Raphael cartoons created for the Sistine Chapel, the Mortlake Tapestries are now on display at the V&A in London.


We often visit Forde Abbey in summertime when the Dahlia’s in the garden are in full bloom. The display of flowers are absolutely stunning, and the surrounding gardens with numerous ponds always look amazing.

One of the highlights in the garden is the Centenary Fountain, at 160ft the highest in England. It is switched on each day at noon.


From the village of Thorncombe a 5-mile circular will take you towards Forde Abbey and back. A pleasant countryside stroll through Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Try the Jubilee Trail which runs from Forde Abbey on the Somerset border in the west, across Dorset to Bokerley Dyke in the north-east on the Hampshire Border.

Or head towards Chard, the highest town in Somerset and explore the Blackdown Hills.

Images by Cool Places Britain

Blackdown Hills AONB

The Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the Devon and Somerset border is a tranquil and relatively isolated landscape.

To the north the land rises steeply in a dramatic wooded scarp, while to the south it forms a plateau, deeply dissected by valleys. This area is rich in wildlife and heritage and unspoilt by mass tourism.

Explore its beautiful landscape of steep valleys, forest and farmland, laced with rivers and streams and pretty villages.

Cool Places to Explore

Beaminster | Ilminster | Lyme Regis | Mapperton House & Gardens | Montacute House | Colmers Hill | Pilsdon Pen | Hell Lane | Barrington Court.

Cool Places to Eat

Brassica | The Lord Poulett Arms | The Five Dials Inn.