Wimborne Minster

To the north of the lively cosmopolitan resort of Bournemouth and the historic harbour town of Poole, lies Rural Dorset and Wimborne Minster, traditional rural England at its best with tranquil, picturesque countryside, sleepy villages and a wealth of fascinating attractions.

The historic market town of Wimborne Minster itself is beautifully situated in the picturesque water meadows of the River Stour, where it joins the clear, free flowing River Allen.

The town’s recorded history dates back to the 8th century and there are many historic buildings, narrow streets and delightful squares and courtyards to explore as well as numerous places of interest both in the town and nearby. Colourful boutiques, specialist shops and an extensive market also make Wimborne a mecca for shoppers.

The twin towers of the magnificent Minster Church of St. Cuthburga, founded in AD 705, dominate the town. The oldest part of the Minster is the massive 12th century central tower, which was once crowned with a spire which fell during a Service in 1600, miraculously without loss of life or injury. The rest of the building dates from the 13th and 14th centuries.

The west tower is where you can see the famous Quarter Jack – originally the figure was of a monk, but in Napoleonic times it was changed to depict a brightly uniformed grenadier, who still strikes the quarter hours on two bells.

At the heart of Wimborne in the High Street, is the Priest’s House Museum & Garden. Discover stunning Roman wall paintings, the fascinating childhood gallery and a unique Victorian Valentine card collection as the museum tells the story of East Dorset.

Explore period rooms from a 17th century hall to the working Victorian kitchen, finding out how life and work has changed in this historic townhouse. Displays include audio descriptions and children’s activities.

Wander through a beautiful walled garden, which features old varieties of fruit trees and colourful herbaceous borders. In the Garden Tea Room visitors can relax and enjoy a refreshing drink, a selection of delicious cakes, cream tea or light savoury snack. A visit to the fascinating gift shop completes any visit.

Just a short walk along West Borough from the town square, you’ll find a classic example of Art Deco architecture, The Tivoli Theatre.

Built in 1936 as a cine/theatre and retaining its original art deco interior, the tradition of showing both films and live stage shows continues to the present day. Having survived the threat of demolition in 1979 for a rapidly abandoned road scheme, the theatre has once again achieved the status of a major venue with 483 seats. Today’s visitors enjoy first class shows and the latest films in the comfort of air conditioning and with full surround sound.

The region is rich in history and many traces of ancient times still remain, from Bockerley Dyke in the north, built to block the path of invading Saxons, to the haunting atmosphere at Knowlton Rings, where pagans and Christians vied for supremacy.

Walkers to the area are spoilt for choice, follow the Stour or Avon Valley Ways along gently meandering rivers, ramble along country footpaths, stride across the open chalk downlands of Cranborne Chase or discover Dorset’s heathland nature reserves and majestic woodlands along the fringes of the New Forest.

The Priest’s House Museum 22 The Tourist Handbook Wessex 2018-19

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