A HOUSE in Dorset which has been taken on by the Ladmark Trust celebrates the artistic legacy of a very unique family.

Dunshay Manor, which is hidden in its own little valley, down a leafy lane near Langton Matravers in Purbeck, is in a magical spot and the ancient house has evolved here over many centuries. The house was built and adapted in the 16th century.

Dunshay was bequeathed to Landmark in 2006 by renowned sculptor Mary Spencer Watson.

Her father, the artist George Spencer Watson RA, bought the house in 1923. George was an eminent painter whose works survive today at Tate Britain and elsewhere and are still much sought after. In his studio in the dairy at Dunshay he painted lovely intimate paintings of family life.

These informal scenes in the Purbeck landscape depict a young Mary's childhood, spent roaming free in the fields and across the cliffs on her pony.

George's wife Hilda was a remarkable creative force in her own right, a dancer and mime artist. She was a client and friend of the psychotherapist Carl Jung, who, with many other luminaries of the day, came to stay at Dunshay. Hilda also created a theatre barn in the stable at Dunshay, where the fittings still survive, for more local shows.

As a teenager Mary danced with Hilda at her mother's studio theatres in London, Studland and at Swanage's Mowlem Institute. Yet for all this exoticism, Mary developed a communion with Purbeck stone from an early age, making friends with the quarrymen at the small local quarries, traditional family workings where the quarrymen were also masons, cutting and dressing the Purbeck stone by hand with traditional tools. Mary became fascinated and went on to study in London and Paris.

She had a generous career - personal practice combined with lengthy spells of teaching and commissions for public sculpture in the interwar years. Mary's timeless works fuse the modernity of her time with an archaism derived from ancient Greece. And always, Mary came back to her beloved Dunshay. She was much loved by all who lived with her on the estate, which she shared generously and openly with locals, deepening the roots of its artistic life.

In 2002, Mary approached the Landmark Trust to ask them to take on Dunshay after her death. By then, she had subdivided the house into makeshift holiday flats and its fabric was dilapidated.

Major repairs have been undertaken and gentle reversals have been made to retrieve more of the form of the house as it was in Mary's childhood.

The house is surrounded by farm outbuildings - dairy, barn, cider house, piggery - and these too have been repaired.

Its refurbishment seeks to preserve Dunshay's Arts and Crafts air.

Dunshay is the Landmark Trust's fifth building in Dorset. Bookings have been released for holiday rentals for Dunshay Manor or you can take a look at it for free on its next open day, part of the Heritage Open Days in September. See landmarktrust.org.uk and heritageopendays.org.uk