By Maureen Panchen





In any family, some characters will always stand out. Given that Bonfire night is around the corner, we thought it appropriate to share the history of two of the Digby ancestors (Everard Digby) and his son (Kenelm Digby) both of whom courted celebrity in one form or another!!


Everard Digby

Everard Digby was one of the last Gunpowder Plot conspirators to join, enlisted for his wealth, ability and devotion, although the story of his induction and subsequent actions are shrouded in mystery.

Most of the traditional story comes to us from his later confessions. However, in secret letters smuggled out of the tower that were only discovered 70 years after his death amongst his son Kenelm’s papers, he makes quite clear the extent of his lying to his examiners in order to protect others, throwing all of his statements under examination into serious doubt. Together with Guy Fawkes, Sir Everard Digby was hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the Gun Powder plot.

Sir Kenelm Digby

Son of Sir Everard Digby, Born on 11 July 1603 at Gayhurst, England.

Died: 11 Jun 1665

It was not his father’s talents that overshadowed Kenelm Digby but the terrible fact that he had been arrested as an organiser of the Gunpowder Plot and executed for treason.

If there was a traitor in the family, the whole family would have been dispossessed, but in this case, James I took pity on the poor orphan as Kenelm was only 3 years old when his father was executed, and had him educated at court. When he was 18, he fell madly in love with Venetia Stanley, but the family did not approve, and sent him abroad.

When he arrived in Paris, Queen Marie de Medici, who was then the Regent of France, as Louis XIII was a minor, fell madly for him, and tried to seduce him. In order to get away, he faked his death and disappeared. Venetia thought he really had died, and went off with Sackville, who was Earl of Dorset, but didn’t marry him. However, eventually Kenelm came back and they did get married, although they had to keep it secret for two and a half years.

Kenelm, who was a great alchemist, fed Venetia on Viper Wine in order to keep her milk-white complexion. When Venetia died, Kenelm Digby got Van Dyck to paint an allegorical portrait of Venetia as Prudence designed to show how pure and faithful she was. The original is very large and at Windsor Castle, and the small copy Kenelm Digby called his travelling picture, shows her as Prudence; her white shift alludes to her purity, the snake encircling her right arm to her wisdom, the turtle doves under her hand to her faithfulness to the marriage bed, and the cupid crushed under her heel to her blameless married life. Kenelm’s other passions were science and philosophy; he befriended Descartes and Hobbes which was no mean feat as they were fierce philosophical enemies! In the midst of all this activity he found time to develop a new kind of thick-bottomed glass from which all modern wine and beer bottles are derived.

First printed in 1669, Sir Kenelm Digby’s 17th-century English Cookbook is regarded as one of the world’s very first cookbooks. He brought back many recipes from his travels on the Continent two of which were for MARMALADE and SAGE and ONION STUFFING. Unlike many antique cookbooks, Kenelm Digby included a vast array of ingredients, including flowers, vegetables, meats, herbs, spices, alcohol, fruits and berries, eggs, milk, grains, and honey. A great deal of the work is taken up with mead and metheglin (flavoured mead) recipes, but there are recipes for sallets (which we we call salads), eggs, potage, meat pie and meat and vegetable pasty, cookedand prepared meats, syllabub, cakes, dessert pies, jellies and puddings. Amongst the pudding recipes is one for PANACOTTA – Kenelm discovered that “this is what the Cardinals eat in Rome!”

The original recipe book is now owned by the Bankes family of Kingston Lacy.

We hope that we have whetted your appetite for more fascinating facts with these “Tales from the Past” of Minterne’s Digby ancestors!! Look out for more in our future monthly BLOGS…



by Head Gardener Mark Bobin

This month is the beginning of the winter prune.

We can now start in areas around the garden and make natural shapes of the plants that have become either too big or are intruding on one another. This is most certainly not an easy task. To prune a natural shape is a lot harder than it sounds but the results speak for themselves. One thing to remember in a wild inspired garden is to have not straight lines.

Also this month I set Alan (one of our gardeners) a task of designing, from scratch some borders that he would like to see improved. The borders in question were also quite dry and in shade, so not easy! This included designing, Pricing, sourcing plants and completing the border. He did this brilliantly using Geraniums, Kirenoshama, Tiarella and Brunnera and one completed border is now on display by the second to last cascade.



weddings at minterne

Fireworks Night, Bonfire Night, Remember remember the 5th November.  Minterne has some interesting connections to this historic event.

November in the Gardens

All garden images courtesy of Mark Bobin

Gardens Open Daily
10am – 6pm    *    1st February to 8th November    *    Admission Price £6.00 (Children under 12 Free)
Season Tickets Available Here

Dogs welcome on leads    *    Parking is FREE for visitors in the car park opposite St Andrews Church    *    Minterne currently offers a selection of cream teas (weather permitting - please phone ahead to confirm)    *    Please note: Unfortunately, Minterne Gardens feature many uneven surfaces and are therefore NOT SUITABLE for wheelchairs    *    Minterne House itself is a private residence and therefore not open to the public without prior consent.


“You supported our impression of English people’s extraordinary kindness!” Gesche and Martin from Germany


“Best Year Yet!” Jonathan E via TripAdvisor


“Wonderful gardens. Been back to this garden for at least the sixth time. Highly recommended.”


“Wonderful spring gardens” Ann A via TripAdvisor


“Minterne Gardens was a great recommendation and was a refreshing change from National Trust formality.”


“”This is our favourite place”


“Minterne Garden looking beautiful today, my first visit, still discovering Dorset after 36yrs!”


“Visited @Minterne_Garden, gorgeous place! Planned an hour, stayed an entireafternoon”


” We had a lovely walk round. Its very peaceful. Its set in beautiful surrounds. Make sure you read all the information on the way round, it is very interesting.”


“Very interesting plants and trees, water features and a small tearoom for refreshments make for a lovely way to spend an afternoon”

Contact Us