Welcome to Dorset's Townpage

Beaminster - A pleasant little town in the heart of the Brit Valley in West Dorset, Beaminster contains some fine examples of Georgian buildings and picturesque 17th century cottages. The church has a fine tower, dating from 1503. Nearby, Parnham House is a magnificent Tudor building and is the home of the John Makepeace furniture workshops and the School for Craftsmen in Wood. Parnham House, together with the workshops, gardens and picnic areas, is open to the public.

Bridport - In Saxon times the town had a mint. In the George Inn, now a shop, Charles II narrowly escaped capture from the pursuing Parliamentarian troops, after the battle of Worcester. The town's port, West Bay, is a growing holiday centre and possesses fine sands. This latter town is the " Port Bredy " of Thomas Hardy's novels. All the rope for the Navy was formerly made here and it was and is an important centre for production of fishing nets and line.

Dorchester - Dorchester is a busy market town immortalised as ‘Casterbridge’ by Thomas Hardy. There are settlements in the area dating back to the Iron Age – Maiden Castle hill fort is a wonderfully preserved example of its type. There are also Roman remains, including the Roman Town House and Roman Baths.

The town centre is home to the Dorset County Museum, which has many fascinating collections including archaeological remains, natural history and county history. Also in Dorchester is the Tutankhamun Exhibition, where you see the fabled artefacts and learn about the discovery of the tomb.

There are many opportunities to enjoy the countryside surrounding the town. The local Tourist Information Centre can provide details of walks in the area, or you could hire a bicycle and explore the district. If you would prefer a leisurely game of golf or an exhilarating indoor swim, there is a choice of venues where you can have a great time.

Gillingham - Small town on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, three miles north west of Shaftesbury. John Constable used to paint here, and his picture of a Gillingham silk mill hangs in the Tate Gallery.

Lyme Regis - Town with charter dating back to 8th century. Small port nestling between two steep hills. Defended bu Robert Blake in the Civil War against the Royalists. Monmouth landed here in 1685. A famous area for the discovery of fossils. The S-shaped Cob, a breakwater provides important setting for Jane Austen's Persuasion" and John Fowles' "French Lieutenant's Woman".

Portland - The Isle of Portland extends southwards from Weymouth and is approached by a causeway running from the mainland, parallel to Chesil Beach. Portland is a large wedge of limestone rising to a height of 500 feet which has, for centuries, been quarried for its superb stone. The Bill has three attractive lighthouses, one of which is a bird observatory. The island has an interesting industrial and naval heritage and the Portland Museum at Easton should not be missed.

Shaftesbury - Eighteen miles west of Salisbury. Named Shaston on old signposts. Delightful old country town, 700 feet above sea level, with wonderful views. Famous in the past for producing buttons. Little is left of an Abbey founded in 880, in which Edward the Martyr was buried. Handsome High Street and picturesque Steep Gold Hill. Nearby is the outstanding house and landscaped gardens of Stourhead. Nearby is the countryside of Cranborne Chase and Blackmore Vale.

Sturminster Newton - An attractive little town - the market centre for the Blackmore Vale. It was the birthplace of the poet William Barnes and was home to Thomas Hardy for two years. The town's stone bridge has six arches over the River Stour and dates back to c.1500AD. There is a plaque attached to it threatening deportation to any person causing wilful damage to it! Sturminster Newton Mill is a working mill within sight of the bridge and dates back to the 17th century. It is operated by the Sturminster Newton Museum and open to the public.

Swanage - Excellent holiday resort with fine sands. Nearby are Corfe Castle and Studland Bay. The rocky coast line is very beautiful as is the inland heathland of Purbeck and the great natual harbour of Poole. Steam railway to Corfe. Durlstone Country Park on the headland overlooking Swanage Bay.

Verwood - Built-up area to north west of Ringwood. Nearby are the Dorset Heavy Horse Centre and Moors Valley Country Park.

Wareham - Wareham is one of a very ancient set of towns which King Alfred gave orders for defences to be raised against the Vikings. One church, St Martin's is still mainly Saxon. The town has not grown much bigger since that time. Many of its buildings are Georgian, as a result of a fire. It lies at the head of a winding channel up from Poole Harbour. Nearby (4 miles) are the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle.

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