Wimborne Minster and North Dorset Cottages
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 Kelly, our property manager on 01929 422 776 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
From the ancient hill top town of Shaftesbury, down through the lush Blackmore Vale – famous as Hardy’s ‘vale of the little dairies – along the River Stour towards the Georgian architectural gems of Blandford Forum and, just to the east, historic Wimborne Minster – this part of Dorset is home to some of the south’s most distinctive and attractive towns.
What is there to see and do in Wimborne and North Dorset?
Wimborne Minster – routinely shortened to Wimborne – is a pretty town that grew up around the Saxon abbey that was remodeled by the Normans in the 12th century. A place of pilgrimage for more than 1300 years, the Minster is home to many treasures including the tomb of Alfred the Great’s elder brother King Ethelred, a 700-year-old clock that chimes on the quarter hour and, next door in Church House, a rare chained library that was one of Britain’s first public libraries. The charming Wimborne Model Town provides a fascinating glimpse into how the town looked in 1951 – there’s even a singing choir in the Minster and public loos that flush!
True to its roots Blandford Forum still hosts a weekly market but is widely known for its stunning Georgian buildings, mostly designed by local architects John and William Bastard following the great fire of 1731 and partly paid for by King George II. Nearby, Shillingstone boasts one of the best-preserved railway stations on the old Somerset & Dorset line and has been extensively restored, while the magnificent views richly reward climbing Hambledon Hill, Okeford Hill or Bulbarrow Hill.
Shaftesbury is perhaps best known for Gold Hill, the steep cobbled street that provided the setting for Ridley Scott’s classic 1973 advert for Hovis bread, but the town owes its existence to the important abbey founded by Alfred the Great in 888.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Sturminster Newton was once home to Britain’s largest weekly cattle market as well as, at different times, both Thomas Hardy and his mentor Dorset dialect poet William Barnes. The Blackmore Vale town of Stalbridge has a fine market cross – dating from the late 15th century it’s 30-feet high and made of yellow Ham stone. Almost as striking is Giles Gilbert Scott’s Arts and Crafts-inspired war memorial in Iwerne Minster.
The area is well served by all manner of festivals, fairs and special events all year round that draw many visitors from near and far. Among the many highlights are the Snowdrop Festival (February) in Shaftesbury, Wimborne Literary Festival and the binennial Waistcoat Festival in Sixpenny Handley (both in May), Wimborne Minster Folk Festival and the pagan celebration of Filly Loo in Ashmore (both in June), Dorset Opera Festival at Bryanston School (July), Sting in the Tale an annual festival of storytelling at various venues (August) and Gillingham Walking Festival (September).
Where can I eat and drink in Wimborne Minster and North Dorset?
As with the rest of Dorset, there’s no shortage of excellent food and drink in the area that will suit all tastes and budgets.
Wimborne is home to the Tickled Pig, noted for its inventive use of fresh local produce including its own pork. Elsewhere there’s the stylish Olive Branch pub restaurant, classic home cooking at Cloisters, the popular Number 9 café and excellent pub food at the Stocks Inn, White Hart and Kings Head.
The modern menu at La Fosse in Cranborne has won plaudits from a raft of national food critics, some of which have also taken the trouble to seek out the culinary delights of the Saxon Inn at Child Okeford and the Drusilla’s Inn at Horton.
Being hungry in Blandford Forum is never a problem with a range of excellent eateries including Beatons tearooms, named after the legendary fashion photography Cecil Beaton who lived at nearby Ashcombe House in the 1930s; the characterful Georgian Tea Rooms and the Yellow Bicycle Café with its (you guessed it, yellow bicycle); while Namaste rightly enjoys a national reputation for its piquant Nepalese cuisine.
The surrounding villages boast a wealth of excellent pubs including the White Horse, Stourpaine; The Cricketers, Iwerne Courtney; The Milton Arms at Winterborne Whitechurch and The Anvil in Pimperne.One of Dorset’s best kept secrets, the restaurant at Compton Abbas airfield, just outside Shaftesbury, enjoys a terrific reputation locally; while in the town itself there’s tasty local fare at the Ship Inn and La Fleur de Lys and the Salt Cellar at the top of Gold Hill offers good food with one of the best views in the county.
With its country house feel and creative comfort cooking, The Fontmell at Fontmell Magna is a real treat and if you’re looking for an alternative to the familiar supermarkets The Udder Farm Shop and café near Gillingham is well worth finding.
The Stur of the Moment tea room in Sturminster Newton is fast winning an enviable name for its home cooking, especially its vegan and gluten-free dishes, as is the dog-friendly White Horse at nearby Hinton St Mary for its seafood – it’s also home to a craft brewery. Cheers!
Take a little time to browse through our selection of holiday cottages in Wimbourne Minister and it's neighbouring villages. We’re certain you’ll find something just right for a truly special Dorset holiday