I had absolutely nothing to do on Bank Holiday Monday, so my mum and I ended up jumping in my Mini and headed down to Philipps House, just outside Salisbury, Wiltshire in a village called Dinton.
Philipps House sits on the site of the original Dinton House which was demolished at the beginning of the 1800s. The house was renamed in 1917 after foreclosure proceedings were brought against Dinton House, and its estate, and the house was purchase by Bertram Erasmus Philipps (1870-1947).
The Neo-Grecian style is absolutely spectacular with its Ionic columns and enormous portico dominating the front. The front door however, was very plain and very rickety! You could see the gaps, and feel the draft, underneath the doors when you stood inside.
Although the house and park are entrusted to The National Trust, the house itself is currently leased to a young family who take care of the property. They have absolutely no staff to help them and do everything themselves, including taking care of the lawns in front and around the house. This means that the property is only open two days a week, Saturday and Monday. However, the family is very much involved in allowing the public into their home and the wife was even walking around chatting to people when we went in.
Inside you can only walk around the ground floor, as the rest of the house is used by the family, but you are allowed to climb to the first landing of the very impressive double U-shaped staircase. You can then look up to the columned gallery that runs around the first floor as well as the dome-like ceiling which lights up the stairwell with its clerestory windows.
My mum told one of the guides that it had been her dream ever since she was a child to sweep down a staircase like that in a long trained ball gown. The guide actually said she was very welcome to come back and do that one day and have her photograph taken! This is just how accommodating they were.
We were very lucky with the weather all day, even though it was rather blustery, which allowed us to sit outside for a while and enjoy the views of Dinton Park. The park is perfect for ramblers and those with dogs to go exploring in but I would definitely advise wearing walking boots as a lot of it is made up of steep slopes of rough grassland. Neither of us were dressed appropriately so we just had a look around the surrounding lawns.
I would definitely recommend visiting Philipps House and Dinton Park if you’ve got a free afternoon as it really is a hidden gem. Many people aren’t aware of its existence, therefore, the house and the park are very quiet and tranquil. The National Trust staff are very knowledgeable about the history of the property and are determined to make your visit worthwhile. To go into the house it will cost you just £4 each but the park is completely free so, on a summer’s day, it would be a lovely place to have a picnic and a lazy sunny afternoon.