Abbotsbury is a picturesque village in West Dorset boasting the remains of a
Benedictine Abbey, including a famous Tithe Barn, a mill pond and medieval
ruins. It is also the home of the Abbotsbury Swannery, the only swannery of
its kind in the world.
A small market town in the heart of West Dorset's Brit Valley, Beaminster
was once a thriving wool, cloth and rope centre. It now contains some fine
Georgian buildings and a late Medieval parish church.
An outstanding example of a Georgian town, Blandford Forum was rebuilt
following a fire in the 1730s and its buildings today remain little changed,
its church and Town Hall being particularly impressive. It is also the home
of Hall and Woodhouse Inns and Badger Beer, breweries providing local ale
that is sold throughout Dorset.
The tiny hamlets of Lower and Higher Bockhampton are situated 3 km from
Dorchester and are synonymous with the 19th century novelist and poet Thomas
Hardy. His birthplace at Higher Bockhampton remains unchanged and boasts a
traditional cottage garden.
Britain's Resort of the Year in 2002, Bournemouth offers the best of a
traditional seaside resort alongside a vibrant city centre. Beautiful sandy
beaches, award-winning gardens, shopping and top entertainment all
contribute to make Bournemouth well worth a visit. The Russell-Cotes Art
Gallery and Museum has recently reopened after major refurbishment and
provides an insight into the lifestyle of a prominent Victorian man and wife
and their extraordinary cornucopia of possessions.
Famed for its rope and networking industry in the 13th century, which still
provides Wimbledon's tennis nets, Bridport is today a small busy West Dorset
market town close to the coast and the picturesque harbour of West Bay.
Cerne Abbas is home to the ancient Augustin's Well and ruined abbey, but
most famous for its 180 ft high Giant, an imposing Romano-British chalk
figure cut into the hillside and well-known for its supposed fertility
Situated on the Jurassic Coast and at the heart of fossil-hunting country,
Charmouth is a small, attractive seaside resort.
A fine Saxon town on the New Forest border, Christchurch is dominated by its
magnificent 11th century Priory Church and overlooks a picturesque harbour.
Dorset's county town and the heart of Thomas Hardy country, was originally
settled by the Romans, two thousand years ago. Remains of the original Roman
wall and a Roman house can still be seen today. Overlooking the town is
Maiden Castle, the largest of the many iron age hillforts scattered across
the Dorset landscape. In Hardy's novels, Dorchester was renamed 'Casterbridge'
and Hardy's actual home, Max Gate, where he later lived and died is situated
in the town.
The name Ferndown is believed to come from the Anglo-Saxon "fiergen"
meaning wooded hill. The town is surrounded by beautiful countryside with
easy road access and modern leisure and shopping facilities.
The most northerly of the Stourside towns, Gillingham is a fast growing
town, offering many rural and riverside walks. There is a museum chronicling
the town's history, including connections with the artist John Constable who
visited the town in the early 1820's. His painting of the old Town Bridge
can be seen in the Tate Gallery in London.
The tiny villages of East and West Lulworth are adjacent to the idyllic
Lulworth Cove, a key site on the World Heritage coast and bordered by
magnificent cliffs of great geological importance.
A traditional and atmospheric seaside town at the far western edge of
Dorset, on the county border with Devon, Lyme Regis is famed for its
strategic importance in the landing of the Duke of Monmouth in his bid to
win the Crown from James II. The Cobb harbour has very famous literary
association with the John Fowles novel 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' and
Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'.
A picturesque village of uniform cobb and thatch cottages, Milton Abbas is a
unique example of a purpose built 18th century estate village. The original
village, which was seen as an eyesore, was uprooted by the landowner to
distance it from his house. The 14th century abbey, a stunning example of
Gothic architecture, is open to the public. It stands beside Milton Abbey
House which has now become a famous boys' school.
A pretty village on the River Frome featuring a Georgian neo-Gothic church
with windows engraved by Lawrence Whistler. T.E. Lawrence, more famously
known as Lawrence of Arabia, is buried in the nearby churchyard.
Poole is Dorset's second largest town. Situated on the shores of Poole
Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney, Poole
has become a major focus for water sports and recreation as well as the home
of internationally important wildlife habitats. The Old Town boasts a famous
Customs House, many pubs and shops and the famous Poole Pottery. There is
also miles of sandy beaches, as well as good ferry connections to France.
Connected to the mainland by a thin causeway at the eastern end of Chesil
Beach, The 'Isle' of Portland has a character all of its own, and affords
magnificent views of the Dorset coastline. A fascinating area for geological
explorers, and the origin of the stone used in many of London's important
buildings, Portland is also a renowned centre for divers and rock-climbers.
The newest village in the UK, Poundbury is the architectural brainchild of
Prince Charles. It is proving to be a great success, so much so, houses are
pre-sold before they are built and the village, built around a traditional
market square, is quickly expanding.
An ancient Saxon hilltown, Shaftesbury was founded about AD 800 by Alfred
the Great. Its abbey ruins and herb gardens are open to the public.
Shaftesbury is the home to Gold Hill, a steep cobbled street with tiny
cottages and one of the most photographed locations in Dorset.
Founded by the Saxons, and set in the north of Dorset, Sherborne is an
historic market town with a medieval high street a superb 15th century abbey
and two castles, one of which was the home to Sir Walter Raleigh.
On the banks of the River Stour and in the heart of the Blackmore Vale,
Sturminster Newton is a small market town with one of the most famous
historic bridges in the county. It is also home to a 17th century working
mill museum. Nearby, is Fiddleford Manor, a medieval manor house boasting a
unique beamed ceiling, owned by English Heritage.
A popular Victorian seaside town in the Purbecks, Swanage is home to the
famous local Purbeck stone used widely as 'marble' in building and an award
winning beach. It is also the final station for the famous 'Swanage Steam
Railway', offering an entertaining and nostalgic trip back in time.
An ancient Saxon market town of great character and located on the River
Frome a short distance inland from the Purbeck coast, Wareham is still
encircled by its original Saxon walls and contains the oldest church in
Made a seaside resort by George III in the 18th century, Weymouth has grown
to become one of Britains's most popular holiday destinations. There is an
elegant Georgian seafront, a magnificent golden beach, set in a safe and
scenic bay, and a small picturesque harbour with sailing and fishing boats.
A charming ancient market town, nestling between the rivers Allen and Stour
, Wimborne Minster owes its Saxon foundation in 705 AD, to Cuthburger,
Princess of Wessex. The twin-towered Minster church has several fascinating
historical features, including a rare chained library and an astronomical
clock. There is a museum called the Priest's House Museum and Garden' - the Museum's collections include social, local and