Kingston Lacy takes its name from the de Lacy Earls of Lincoln who were tenants in the 13th and
14th centuries. In 1635 Sir John Bankes bought Corfe Castle as an occasional private residence, and in
the following year he bought the neighbouring Kingston Lacy estate. Sir John was Attorney General to
King Charles I and supported the Royalist cause in the Civil War. In 1643 Parliamentarian forces laid siege
to Corfe Castle but were forced to withdraw after six weeks in the face of stern resistance from Sir John's
wife, Lady Mary Bankes. Sir John died in Oxford in 1644 and in late 1645 Colonel Bingham, Governor of
Poole, launched a second siege of Corfe Castle, but the widowed Lady Bankes again refused to capitulate.
However after 48 days she was forced to surrender when a member of the garrison let Parliamentarian
troops disguised as Royalist reinforcements in to the castle. Colonel Bingham was so impressed with Lady
Bankes' courage that he allowed her to keep the keys to the castle, which was subsequently reduced to ruins.
In 1663 Sir John's son, Sir Ralph Bankes, commissioned the architect Sir Roger Pratt to create a new family
seat at Kingston Lacy. This first house, known as Kingston Hall, was completed in about 1667. In the 1780s
Robert Furze Brettingham remodelled the house for Sir Ralph's great-grandson Henry Bankes. In 1835
Henry's son, the eccentric and flamboyant William John Bankes, employed Sir Charles Barry, architect of
the Houses of Parliament, to transform Kingston Hall into an Italian palazzo. The house, which now became
known as Kingston Lacy, was completely encased in Chilmark stone, and a new balustrade and cupola
were added to the roof. In 1841 William was charged with indecently exposing himself to a guardsman
and fled to Italy, where he spent the rest of his life, although he continued to concern himself with
the furnishing and decoration of his house. Following the death of Henry John Ralph Bankes in
1981 the estate passed into the custodianship of the National Trust.