Weymouth and Portland Cottages
Every inch the modern tourist resort, with a wide and shallow sandy beach that in the summer is home to donkey rides, Punch and Judy, sand sculpture and world class local ice cream, Weymouth is in many ways the first great English seaside resort.
Its success owes much to the patronage of King George III who made Weymouth his summer residence in the 1780s and was even known to venture into the sea – almost unheard of in polite society – in a bathing machine. The famous white horse carved into the hill at Osmington dates from 1808 and is said to depict George leaving the town for the last time.
Weymouth has a long history as a port and since 1571 has incorporated neighbouring Melcombe Regis, thought to be the point at which the Black Death came into England in June 1348. In the mid-17th century Weymouth saw heavy fighting during the Civil War and was a major point of departure for settlers bound for the New World.
Before becoming MP for Weymouth in 1702, the architect Sir Christopher Wren controlled the quarries at Portland so in the wake of the Great Fire of London it was an obvious choice to have his showpiece St Paul’s Cathedral built of Portland Stone. By coincidence, Sir James Thornbill, the artist who decorated the inside of St Paul’s was born in the White Hart pub in Melcombe Regis in 1675.
The area more than did its bit during the two world wars of the 20th century, hosting some 120,000 convalescing ANZAC troops during World War One and seeing the embarkation of more than half a million soldiers for the invasion of France in 1944, while the famous bouncing bombs of the Dambusters were tested in the Fleet lagoon at Chesil Beach.
When Portland’s naval base and air station closed at the end of the 1990s it ended more than 500 years of association with the Royal Navy. A geologically important limestone tied island connected to the mainland by the remarkable shingle of Chesil Beach, it is the home of British Sailing with the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy hosting the sailing 2012 Olympic sailing regattas.
What is there to see and do at Weymouth and Portland?
As well as the many obvious attractions of Weymouth beach and its safe bathing waters, the area has a wealth of important historic sites, stunning leisure attractions and interesting shops to fill your day.Overlooking the bay the Nothe Fort has a host of displays and special themed events to entertain the whole family – something the lively and varied programme at the community-run Weymouth Pavilion achieves year after year.
Long before the 2012 Olympics the Borough of Weymouth & Portland had a tradition of hosting festivals with a comprehensive and diverse range of activities, from international events to smaller-scale community happenings.
Opened in 2000 and expanded since then, the National Sailing Academy is one of the best facilities in Europe and hosts local, national and international events in the open waters of Weymouth Bay and the man-made Portland Harbour; while the Yacht Club of Weymouth’s annual Dinghy Regatta is more popular than ever.
Looking down towards Chesil Beach to the west and the fishing waters out to sea the magnificent Spirit of Portland sculpture speaks of the isle’s fishing and quarrying industries. Just inland and to the west is the important prehistoric landscape of the South Dorset Ridgeway, home to more than a thousand scheduled ancient monuments including the barrow cemetery at Bronkham Hill, the incorrectly restored Neolithic dolmen at Hellstone and a long barrow called Grey Mare and her Colts, just north of Abbotsbury – a small but gloriously quaint village with a world famous swannery and subtropical gardens.
Where can I eat and drink in Weymouth and Portland?
It’s practically our national dish and a visit to Weymouth isn’t complete without sampling the local fish and chips. The quayside is buzzing with takeaways and independent restaurants all of which compete to serve the best fish dinners in town – try the Marlboro, Fish ’n’ Fritz, the Old Harbour or Bennett’s.
Having grasped its moment in the Olympic spotlight with both hands modern Weymouth can also offer more foodie fare with great Mediterranean seafood at Manbo’s and Al Molo, the contemporary British menus at Mallams, Restaurant 43 and the Crab House, top fusion seafood at Crusacean and wholesome Anglo-American cuisine at the Dorset Burger Company.
The town is also well served by its bars and pubs, many of which have superb menus. Seek out The George, the Ship Inn, The Gloucester and, at Brewers Quay, the Crow’s Nest. Not far outside town there’s the Wishing Well at Upwey and the Springhead in the picture postcard pretty village of Sutton Poyntz.
Portland has also benefited enormously from the Olympic legacy and there’s a tempting range of dining options to choose from including great café menus at The Lobster Pot, Quiddles and the Jailhouse Café; seriously good pub food from the New Inn, Eight Kings and Cove House and proper fish and chips at the Chesil Chippie.
If you’re exploring Dorset’s rugged hinterland it’s well worth visiting Abbotsbury with its charming Tea Rooms on Rodden Row and at the Old School House. The Ilchester Arms is known for its quality seafood and there’s an excellent traditional pub menu on offer at the Swan Inn.
Take a little time to browse through our selection of holiday cottages in Weymouth and Portland. We’re certain you’ll find something just right for a truly special Dorset holiday.
Due to high demand from our guests, we have recently started looking for properties in this area. If you have a property and are considering letting, please get in touch with Claire, our property manager on 01929 448694 or email email@example.com