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C1750. Grade 1* status shows the rarity of this thatched Shell House. Set in a walled garden it was part of a Merchant’s House in the centre of Sherborne. Owned by Samuel Foot (1704-92). We do not know the shell artists. The octagonal interior is unusually intact and  decorated with classical shell floral patterns that incorporate repeat swags. The ceiling’s 8 panels use hand decorated shells mainly sourced from the Dorset coast.

The rusticated Shell House in the Shaftesbury Estate in Wimborne St Giles was built in 1753 for the Earl of Shaftesbury. It functioned as a summer house for entertainment. Master mason Joseph Lane from Tisbury, Wiltshire worked on its construction. Some of the internal shell work is glued onto petrified wood. Advice on shell patterns came from a Mr Castles who had a shell shop and grotto spa bath in Marylebone, London. Today this garden feature is used as a backdrop for wedding photographs.

Ian Willis has created a garden full of follies since 1981. He designed and decorated the castellated Shell House in Serles at Wimborne with gargoyle and lions. It is a shell shrine to a Pan figure, Jimmy the Merman!

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