Holnicote Estate Somerset

... a beautiful and diverse estate of picture postcard villages, dramatic shoreline and astounding scenery.

Holnicote Estate is a 12,500 acre estate owned and managed by the National Trust making it one of their biggest sites. It is situated in the Exmoor National Park and covers hamlets, villages, coastline, woodland and open moorland, plenty of diverse wildlife and sites of archaeological interest.


Brief history
Having inherited Holnicote House in around 1802, the renowned Acland family owned and managed it along with the estate up until 1944 when it was passed over to the National Trust. It was Sir Thomas Dyke Acland (10thBaronet) who developed and enlarged the estate when, in 1828, he included the village of Selworthy in the estate and improved living conditions for the tenants by adding a green and outside toilets.  In 1818 when the Crown sold the Exmoor forest to John Knight, Sir Thomas who was the outgoing Forest Warden is reputed to have taken 30 of the Exmoor ponies and started what was called the Anchor herd. Other tenants also bought ponies at the time and some of these numbered herds are still in existence today. Holnicote has developed ever since these early days of the nineteenth century to the estate that it is now.
 
About Holnicote Estate
Covering an area of 12,500 acres the Estate provides a wide variety of landscapes to discover by car, bicycle or by foot. There are over 170 houses and cottages dotted around, many with original features such as the high chimneys used to draw smoke out of the valleys, and also 14 farms mainly sheep and beef production but some arable crops are grown in the more fertile areas. Holnicote House however is now leased from the National Trust and run as a country hotel.
 
Scenery
The estate is made up predominantly of open moorland and heathland however there is also woodland situated around Horner which now makes up the Dunkery and Horner Woods National Nature Reserve, formed in 1995 along with more fertile arable lands in the Vale of Porlock.  The land drops down to 4 miles of coastline around Porlock Bay where, following a storm in 1996 an area of salt marshland was formed when the sea water, aided by high winds, breached the shingle ridge.
There are also over 100 miles of footpaths that meander through the various habitats which provide plenty of routes to follow for both the earnest hiker or cyclist or just for those wanting a gentle morning or afternoon in the coutryside.
 
Wildlife
Exmoor is famous for its ponies but you will also find otters, over a thousand species of moths and butterflies along with plenty of other animals and insects to spot.
Many species of birds of prey can often be seen such as kestrel, sparrowhawk, buzzard, red kite, peregrine and hen harrier among others. This makes the area an ideal place for keen wildlife enthusiasts or just the casual visitor to spot and identify many species.
 
Archaeology
There are plenty of archaeological sites to explore including bronze age cairns near Dunkery Beacon, iron age hill forts and settlements with one or two ramparts such as Bury Castle, medieval village sites and barrows. Further details can be found at the Somerset Historic Environment Records from Somerset County Council.
 
Villages
There are 4 main villages, Allerford with its 18thcentury packhorse bridge, Selworthy with its 14thcentury church, Bossington and Luccombe with picture perfect cottages and quiet lanes which are a step back in time and well worth a visit along with the hamlet of Horner with its tearooms, historic mill and nature reserve.
 
Events
Holnicote plays host to Point to Point races held early in May.
 
Local places of Interest
Blackford Dovecote, built in the 13thor 14thcenturies is one of the oldest buildings in the area.
 
Holnicote sits within the Exmoor National Park which offers plenty of places of interest and attractions all year round for visitors of all ages.
 
Minehead– a seaside town with all the amenities you require.
 
Dunster and Dunster Castle– a wonderful village with plenty to see and lots of history.
 
 
For further information please contact
Holnicote Estate Office
Selworthy
Minehead
Somerset TA24 8TJ
01643 862452 (General enquiries)
 
Email: holnicote@nationaltrust.org.uk
 

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015