Dorchester, the County town of Dorset is "Casterbridge", the home of Thomas Hardy whose poetry and novels have never been out of print since his death in 1928 and who is widely known to English speakers the world over. It is also where William Barnes, the Dorset dialect poet spent much of his life and was the birthplace of Sir Frederick Treves, surgeon to Queen Victoria

It is an important Roman town with amphitheatre, aqueduct, baths, and mosaics. It also has one of the best preserved Roman town houses in the country. It has powerful links with Judge Jefferies and the Bloody Assize of 1685 and its Old Crown Court witnessed the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834.

Built on top of a 5000 year old Neolithic henge monument, larger than Stonehenge, it also boasts Maiden Castle, the largest iron age Celtic hill fort in Europe. Dorchester is situated just eight miles from the Dorset coast, itself designated a World Heritage Site. It is also where the Prince of Wales began building his pioneering village of Poundbury.


Dorchester lies within easy reach of the port of Poole, which has good ferry links with France. There are good rail and road links to London, Bristol and Exeter.


Day trips from Dorchester

There are many interesting places to visit for a day trip. The coast ranges from golden sands, in popular holiday resorts such as Weymouth and  Swanage to the spectacular  cliff-top scenery of places like Lulworth or Lyme Regis. Inland, there are historic towns and beautiful villages to explore. Slightly further afield are the cities of Winchester, Salisbury, Bath and Exeter.  



It the weather is bad, there are no less than five museums in Dorchester. The award winning County Museum contains much about the history and archaeology of the County and a special display on Thomas Hardy. Dorchester was a garrison town and home of the Dorsetshire Regiment. The Military Museum shows the history of this famous Regiment. The cells and historic court of Dorchester's Shire Hall allow you to immerse yourself in more than 200 years of justice and injustice. Then, of particular appeal to children are the are the Tutankahmen Exhibition and the Dinosaur Museum.


Outdoor activities

When the weather is fine,why not picnic in the Borough Gardens or take a stroll along the riverside walks? Or you could visit Maiden Castle, situated a mile to the South-West of the town.



There is a wide variety of shops, most of which are situated in a pleasant pedestrianised  area. Numerous restaurants and cafes are dotted around the town centre.


Reading about Dorchester is one thing, but you really need to feel the atmosphere of the town to appreciate it. As Daniel Defoe suggested, "a man might as well spend time in Dorchester as in any town in England." So why not join us here for a while?

Borough Gardens, photo by Hilary Lancashire 

The Dorchester-Bayeux apple tree, by The Keep museum, photo by Ian Coleman

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