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Rushmore Park


Rushmore Park is a late-19th-century park incorporating a smaller 17th-century enclosure and a medieval deer park.


The land rises at the northern end of the site.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

A late 19th-century park laid out by General Pitt-Rivers incorporating a smaller 17th-century enclosure and parts of a medieval deer park.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Rushmore Park, a site of 535ha, lies on Cranborne Chase, to the east and south of the village of Tollard Royal, just north of the county boundary between Wiltshire and Dorset. It is surrounded on all sides by farmland and heath. The land rises at the northern end of the site from where there are views of the Bournemouth coast.

Entrances and Approaches

The main drive, Upper North Road, enters the northern tip of Rushmore Park at Bridmore Belt. The drive runs c 500m east-south-east before turning south for c 1km, passing Bridgmore Hedge Corner after c 500m. The drive then passes through late C19 cast- and wrought-iron gates hung on highly decorative piers, again of cast and wrought iron, set in a dwarf wall with cast-iron spear-headed railings (ensemble listed grade II). The gates are flanked by the North Lodge of 1886 and a cottage called Jubilee Lodge or Room, built in 1887 as a chapel (both listed grade II). The drive continues for a further 1.2km in a southerly direction across the park to the House.

A second drive, Lower North Road, crosses the first at its northern end, entering the site at Bridmore Lodge. It runs south-west, parallel to and east of Cuttice Bottom, to the west side of the House. A third drive, Lower South Road, runs from Oakley Lane to the south through an avenue to Minchington Down, then passes South Lodge (OS 1889), continuing across Rushmore Park to approach the House. A fourth approach leads through an avenue from Bloody Shard Gate in the far south-west corner of the site, through Farnham Woods to Rookery Farm and Larmer Tree Grounds (qv). From here it turns eastwards, entering the park at Park View Point in the southern part of the site.

Principal Building

Rushmore House (listed grade II) stands on the summit of a hill, surrounded by the landscaped grounds which extend north to Cuttice Down and south to Minchington Cross. Built of limestone ashlar with hipped roofs of Welsh slate and of two storeys, it was constructed in 1817 but may incorporate part of the house of c 1760 in the central block (VCH 1987). It was extended to the south in 1880 by the architect Philip Webb for General Pitt-Rivers, this later block being of three storeys.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

The pleasure grounds surround the House and are divided from the park by a brick ha-ha. A round temple known as the Temple of Vesta (1890, listed grade II) stands on their edge, c 150m to the north-east of the House. A broad gravel walk links the House with a brick-walled flower garden which stands within the pleasure grounds to the north. The early C19 walls (listed grade II) which enclose the garden on three sides are of Flemish garden wall bond with a pitched brick coping. The walls incorporate four pairs of ashlar or ashlar and brick piers and two pairs of gates; one of the latter frames views from the garden over Cranborne Chase.


Since the late C19 Rushmore Park has comprised of Rushmore Park itself, the Chase Avenues, Tollard Park, Larmer Park, and Minchington Park. Rushmore Park extends to the north of Rushmore House to Cuttice Down and to the south to Minchington Cross. To the east it is bounded by Cranborne Chase and Woodcutts Common. The park extends south of the village of Tollard Royal to Biles Coppice situated north of the Wiltshire and Dorset county boundary.

Two beech avenues planted by Pitt-Rivers, the General's Avenue and Chase Avenue, run north-eastwards across the main area of the park extending beyond it into the Chase. They are linked by a third avenue, Bridmore Ride, cutting south-east through the Chase. Rushmore Park was enclosed by Pitt-Rivers in 1880 and incorporated a small deer park which was extant by 1618. He used this enclosure near the North Lodge as a menagerie for his exotic livestock; this included yak, llamas, reindeer, zebras, and kangaroos which were kept partly for the education and enjoyment of the local people. The existing coppice was little cleared, with the scattering of individual specimen trees being planted amongst semi-natural woodland and relict wood pasture. Much of this was subsequently removed in the 1970s, but untouched areas remain at Tinkley Down and South Cuttice on the west side of the park, and at Badger's Glory to the east.

Some 1km south-south-west of Rushmore House lies Rushmore Farm, formerly known as Tollard Farm (OS 1889), which is surrounded by parkland. The latter is enclosed to the north-west by Tollard Royal village, and to the east by a late C19 avenue called Tinkley Bottom (OS 1889). The parkland, which previously included arable and grazed land and open downland, is scattered with clumps of beech and ash introduced by the late C19 (OS). To the west of this area, and to the south of the village, lies Tollard Park, including Little Wood and Leys Coppice. The latter had been enclosed as fields by the early C17, and Pitt-Rivers removed the hedges across the grassland and planted clumps of trees.

To the south of Tollard Park lies Larmer Park (so named on a map of Rushmore of 1900), at the eastern corner of which is Park View Point. From here there are views to the north-west of King John's House in Tollard Royal village (outside the area here registered), and to the north into the other areas of parkland. Tollard Park and Larmer Park are separated by Park Wood, the collective name for Clap Lane Coppice, Church Way, Tollard Park Coppice, Inner Park, and Biles Coppice. Within Larmer Park is a pleasure ground, the Larmer Tree Grounds (qv), laid out by Pitt-Rivers in the 1880s for the recreation of the local people. To the east of Larmer Park is Minchington Park and Down, an area planted with clumps and belts of trees. This was laid out as a golf course and racecourse in the 1890s (see map of 1896) but these features are now (2002) no longer used and are only partly visible. As on Minchington Down to the south, areas of the existing downland with its hazel gorse and bramble scrub were left by Pitt-Rivers, but this area was cleared, ploughed, and re-seeded in the 1970s.

The registered area of park includes numerous archaeological features, some of which are scheduled ancient monuments.

Kitchen Garden

The late C19 kitchen garden stands c 600m to the south-east of the House on the edge of Rushmore Park and Woodcutts Common. The garden has a rectangular plan and is enclosed by red-brick walls, principally in English bond, with stone dressings. It has three cylindrical corner towers, an observation turret on the fourth, south-west corner, gateways on the north and south sides, a lodge on the north side, summerhouses in the form of temples on the north and west sides, and a detached stable range immediately to the north. The whole ensemble is listed grade II.


Country Life, 45 (28 June 1919), pp 782-90; 83 (2 April 1938), pp 352-6; (9 April 1938), pp 376-80

N Pevsner and B Cherry, The Buildings of England: Wiltshire (2nd edn 1975), p 110

Rushmore Park Restoration Plan, (Savills 1991)

Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire IV, (1959), pp 458-60; XIII, (1987), pp 20-1; XV, (1995), pp 133-4


T Aldwell, Map showing Rushmore Lodge and surrounding land, 1618 (copy in Savills 1991)

A Pitt-Rivers, Map of the Park and Grounds, Rushmore, Wilts, with a portion of Cranborne Chase, showing the position of ancient remains, 1884 (private collection)

Map of the Rushmore-Larmer Golf Links, 1896 (private collection)

Map of Rushmore, The Larmer Grounds, King John's House, and the Museum at Farnham, with the surrounding country, 1900 (private collection)

OS Old Series 1" to 1 mile, published 1788

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1889; 3rd edition published 1926/7

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The site is now a golf course, and is not open to the general public.


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


In 1616, the rights of the ancient forest of Cranborne Chase were settled on the Earl of Salisbury, who also owned the manor of Berwick St John. This included the Rushmore area, and he enclosed land to the east of Rushmore Lodge (see Thomas Aldwell's map of 1618). Rushmore was one of two walks within the Chase which lay in Wiltshire, and around 1650 the Rushmore Walk was recorded as having roughly 160 deer (Victoria County History 1987). In 1671 the Chase rights and the manors of Berwick St John and Tollard Royal were sold to the Earl of Shaftesbury who held them until 1692. The estate then had a series of owners until 1714, when it passed to George Pitt of Stratfield Saye in Hampshire (see separate entry for this site). The 15th-century Rushmore Lodge was replaced in the early 17th century and was partly demolished, the remainder becoming offices in the mid-18th century when the nearby Rushmore House was constructed. In 1817, Pitt's grandson George, Lord Rivers, rebuilt Rushmore House and it became the family's summer residence. An Act of Parliament which disfranchised the Chase was passed in 1829 so permitting the creation of a park, but plans for such work were abandoned and the immediate surrounds of the House remained as open downland, coppice woodland, and wood pasture. New gardens around the House were planned after 1856, but it is unclear whether they were implemented (VCH 1987).

In 1880, on the death of the sixth Lord Rivers, the property was inherited by Lt-General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox, great grandson of the first Lord Rivers, who added Pitt-Rivers to his name. In 1882 the General became the first government Inspector of Ancient Monuments, and is generally remembered as the father of modern English archaeology. Between 1880 and 1900 he transformed the land around Rushmore House into a series of parks and leisure facilities (Plan, 1900). This included extensive tree-planting schemes, the creation of a deer park and an experimental livestock breeding area, and the creation of the Larmer Tree Grounds (see separate entry for this site) and adjacent golf course and racecourse. After General Pitt-Rivers' death in 1900, the family continued to live at Rushmore House until 1927.

In 1963 the Rushmore estate was sold. The House is now (2002) used as a school and both it and the estate remain in separate private ownership.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD1527
  • Grade: II


  • House (featured building)
  • Now School
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Parkland
  • Deer Park
Key Information





Principal Building






Open to the public


Civil Parish

Tollard Royal