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Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

One of the most intriguing historic houses in England is just an 11-minute drive from us. Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, in Bournemouth, was the exotic home of two Victorian collectors and travel enthusiasts, Sir Merton and his wife Lady Annie Russell-Cotes.

In 1901, Merton treated Annie to the incredible birthday present ­of a seaside villa, which the couple then filled with beautiful objects from their world travels, a well as a remarkable collection of British art.

The main hall features high-Victorian and pre-Raphaelite art, including many works by women artists. Look out for the Venus Verticordia, the iconic pre-Raphaelite painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which depicts a femme fatale with her roots in both pagan and Christian traditions. There is also the Japanese collection, featuring Noh masks and a magnificent 18th century shrine, which is recognised by the V&A as one of the most important Japanese collections in the world.

Situated on the East Cliff overlooking Bournemouth Pier, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum also offers stunning views along the Dorset coastline. Spend some time enjoying the view from the Conservatory, the Red Room or the cliff-top garden, before visiting the cafe and the shop selling bespoke gifts and souvenirs.