In the heart of Dorset countryside lies the Roman County town of Dorchester, with its historic buildings, charming character and literary associations.
The town centre has many chain stores as well as a vast selection of specialist stores with individual gifts and craft stores selling local ceramics and textiles. The Borough Gardens, near to Hardy’s statue are a short walk from the town centre, and contain tennis courts, a bandstand, and a children’s playground.
During the summer, the gardens are the focal point for many festivals and fairs. There are a number of restaurants and cafes which cater for a range of tastes and budgets.
Dorchester is steeped in history with its 18th century houses, alleys and precincts and many relics from the past including a Roman amphitheatre and mosaic floored houses as well as Iron Age dwellings at Maiden Castle and Poundbury.
Maiden Castle is the largest hillfort in England and lies 2 miles south of the town centre. Today it is owned by English Heritage and is open to the public free of charge. The County town museum displays a range of artefacts from the hillfort along with a number of other historical relicts.
A vistit to Dorchester is not complete without a visit to the Roman town house - excavations in the 1930s revealed the town house which you can visit today free of charge.
The town is famously associated with novelist and poet Thomas Hardy who lived in and based many of his works on the town. He called Dorchester Casterbridge and on market days thought it to be reminiscent of old Rome. TE Lawrence ‘of Arabia’ lived and died close by in the Purbeck hills and both men’s homes can be visited today.
Nearby places of interest are Bridport, Weymouth and Lyme Regis and further east are the coastal resorts of Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch.