Stapehill, a village in Dorset, is a scenic and friendly location best known for its Abbey, which is now being converted in a unique restoration project to become over 50 private homes. Situated within the Dorset countryside between Wimborne and Ferndown, Stapehill has all the village amenities you could need, including a charming inn.
Stapehill has long has a religious connection – the St Thomas of Canterbury college of the Jesuits was established here in 1610, while the nearby Canford Estate in Wimborne was served by the Stapehill Jesuits once established in the early 1600s as well.
Stapehill Abbey was built in the 19th Century. Originating with the Abbey House in the early parts of the 1800s, the Monastic buildings were added in the early 1840s before the twin Chapels were then designed by Charles Hansom in 1847, with construction on the Abbey being fully completed in 1851.
The monastery was originally founded to be the home to the Cross Abbey order of Cistercian Trappist nuns, led by Madame Augustine de Chabannes since 1802. The order resided in the Abbey until 1990, when it was then acquired by Stapehill Enterprises. Madame de Chabannes had been imprisoned in the Bastille, only escaping death by guillotine when the Bastille was stormed. She escaped, fled to Switzerland and then joined the monastic odyssey.
In 1991 the owners of the Abbey opened it up as a tourist attraction, incorporating a rural museum, a craft centre and farmyard, allowing visitors to explore the beautiful architecture and scenic gardens that still offered a sense of calmness and tranquillity instilled by the silent nuns.
In 2007 the Abbey was closed to the public, and in 2014 permission was granted to convert the Abbey into a number of private houses and flats, with due care paid to the restoration of as many classical features as possible. The conversion was backed by English Heritage, and a year after planning permission had been granted the Abbey was bought by Ankers and Rawlings, and work began.
Ultimately, the estate will host 52 homes with between two and five bedrooms, with owners able to enjoy not only the restored listed buildings but also the immaculate gardens and surrounding grounds. These include a feature fountain and a lake, as well as ornamental gardens.
Period features including the original quarry flag stones and terracotta tiles are being cleaned and reused to form external areas and patios for the properties, retaining as much of the original character as possible.
A warm welcome awaits at The Old Thatch, a quality pub situated right in the heart of Stapehill just across from the Abbey. It’s a hub of village activity, hosting a regular quiz night every Thursday along with special events. During the summer, the pub runs its own family-friendly events in ‘The Bear Island Woodland’, where children can enjoy building dens, playing table tennis, and eating delicious pizza and Purbeck ice creams.
The village has its own traditional hall, hosting a number of exercise and dance classes and also available for hire for any private parties and events. Meanwhile there are a number of interesting shops within the village, as well as plenty of garden centres if you’re looking for a cup of tea, a slice of cake and some new ornaments for your outdoor space.
Stapehill is situated very close to the bustling centres of Ferndown and Wimborne, with the coast at Bournemouth less than a half-hour drive away. Popular attractions within easy reach include the Wimborne Model Town & Gardens, the Kingston Lacy National Trust property, and Adventure Wonderland, a small theme park close to Bournemouth Airport.