Dorchester Local Information: 10 top things to know... more

  • 1. History

    Dorchester was originally called Durnovaria by the Romans, and tree-lined walks around the town follow the route of the original Roman town’s walls. This is known as the Durnovaria Town Walk. The Roman Town House, excavated in the North West corner of the town, also attracts many visitors. The Fordington area of Dorchester has a rich history containing stories of Alfred the ...Read moreGreat, William the Conqueror and Thomas Hardy. St George’s Church, in Fordington, is at the heart of the village and includes a Roman stone and a 15th century tower. Read less

  • 2. Now

    Dorchester sits on the banks of the River Frome and is a traditional market town and the county town of Dorset. There are plenty of historic buildings and monuments to be seen in the town, as well as many modern attractions.

  • 3. Events

    The Dorset County Show takes place over two days in September at the Dorchester Showground. This popular agricultural show includes a list of attractions as well as competitions and displays. Dorchester Carnival takes place in June and includes a day of fun and entertainment as well as the main carnival procession. A street fair and party in the park are among the attractions ...Read moreduring this event. Read less

  • 4. Attractions

    Maiden Castle is the site of an Iron Age hillfort, and is maintained by English Heritage. The site is free to visit and includes information panels detailing its 4,000-year history. Dorset County Museum contains different galleries covering subjects such as natural sciences, geology, art, history and literature. The galleries include video displays, interactive exhibits and ac...Read moretivity carts for children. Other museums in Dorchester are the Teddy Bear Museum, the Keep Military Museum, the Terracotta Warriors Museum and the Dinosaur Museum. Kingston Maurward Park and Gardens includes a grand 18th century house, visitor centre, animal park, gardens and more. Monkey World, in nearby Wareham, is a monkey rescue centre containing over 240 primates of 16 different species. Visitors can see the animals, enjoy the adventure play area and listen to talks by monkey experts. Read less

  • 5. Things To Do

    The gardens of privately owned Miterne House are open to visitors and include a great selection of plants and trees all year round, as well as lakes, streams and a wooded valley. Henley Hillbillies, in nearby Buckland Newton, offers visitors a chance to ride a quad bike, shoot a clay pigeon, accelerate a mini out of the bends of a dirt track, fly a hovercraft and more. There ...Read moreare two leisure centres in Dorchester. The Thomas Hardye Leisure Centre includes a 25m pool, a learner pool, sports hall and fitness suite. The St Osmunds Community Sports Centre includes badminton courts, fitness suite, tennis courts, dance studio and sports pitches. Many guided walks are available in the town centre, including the Roman Town Walk, the Gallows Walk and the Thomas Hardy walk. Read less

  • 6. Business

    A busy and popular market takes place in the town every Wednesday and a farmers’ market is held on the first Saturday of every month. A country market is held every Friday in the Corn Exchange. The town centre includes a good mix of popular high street names and independent specialist stores, cafes and restaurants. Visitors travel here from across the region.

  • 7. Transport

    By car, the A37 is the main road running north of the town. The A35 runs to the east and west and the A354 runs to the south. The nearest airport to Dorchester is Bournemouth Airport, which is about 26 miles away and has international flights. Exeter International Airport is 43 miles away and Bristol Airport is 48 miles away. Train services are good from Dorchester to the res...Read moret of the UK. There are direct trains to the town from London’s Waterloo station. Read less

  • 8. Entertainment

    Many live events take place in the town’s Corn Exchange, including dance, comedy and music. Dorchester Arts Centre has a varied programme of live entertainment, including theatre, dance and visual arts.

  • 9. Famous Landmarks

    St George’s Church sits at the top of a hill in the Fordington area of Dorchester. Its tower dates back to the 15th century and the church contains the treasure of an engraved Roman stone. Author Thomas Hardy was once a member of the church’s restoration committee.

  • 10. Interesting Fact

    Author Thomas Hardy was born and grew up in Dorchester and the town was the setting for many of his novels, including The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Under the Greewood Tree and Far from The Madding Crowd.

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