No visit to Dorset would
be complete without a peek at this idyllic,
ancient town which sits like a rough-cut crown
atop a 700ft hill known as Cranborne Chase.
You reach the seductive summit by climbing
steep, cobbled streets - it’s the same summit
used by Hovis in their famous TV ad showing a
cloth-capped boy pushing a bicycle up Gold
Hill laden with loaves.
The town grew up around a 9th Century Saxon abbey which today offers a museum, pleasant gardens, a fantastic view – and the chance to catch your breath.
Novelist Thomas Hardy
named this place ‘Shaston’ in his famous book
‘Jude the Obscure’ and on a clear day visitors
might even catch a glimpse of Glastonbury Tor.
Wardour Castle is a grand Georgian edifice built in the 1770s by James Paine for the 8th Lord Arundell. It has a 60ft high staircase. An earlier castle was destroyed when the 3rd Lord Arundell blew it up after it had been captured by Parliamentary troops in 1643.
King Canute died in Shaftesbury in 1035 while the Saxon king Edward the Martyr is buried in the hilltop abbey.