A guide to Shaftesbury

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Did you know?

  • 1.
    Shaftesbury is the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset, being built about 215 metres (705 ft) above sea level on the edge of Cranborne Chase.
  • 2.
    A Benedictine abbey once stood in the town overlooking the Blackmore Vale. It was built in 888 by Alfred the Great and was used as a nunnery.
  • 3.
    Shaftesbury is synonymous with the famous author Thomas Hardy who was greatly inspired by north Dorset. The principal towns of Shaftesbury and Sherborne feature heavily in his novels.

Shaftesbury Area

Shaftesbury is an historic small market town just inside the Dorset boundary and close to the Wiltshire border, dating back to Saxon times. It is home of the iconic Gold Hill, made famous in the 1970’s Hovis adverts and a major tourist attraction. Shaftesbury lies 20 miles to the west of Salisbury and is on the edge of Cranborne Chase with magnificent views over the Blackmore Vale. The town has a number of coffee shops, independent gift and clothing retailers, beauty salons, and well-known high street stores.

Surrounding Villages

  • Hindon
    Hindon is a charming village in the Cranborne Chase located off the A350 south of Warminster, about 10 miles west of Salisbury. Once an old market town, but now a busy village; its high street is lined with trees, pretty cottages and proudly boasts two very notable pubs.
  • Tollard Royal
    Set on the very edge of Rushmore Park, Tollard Royal is an ancient and particularly picturesque village on Cranborne Chase. The King John Inn pub is named after King John who used to hunt through the forest and had his hunting lodge at Tollard. Tollard Royal is also in close proximity to the annual Larmer Tree music festival.
  • Gillingham
    Gillingham is smaller in size than Shaftesbury and has a busy community with useful amenities including two large supermarkets, a sports centre, a few pubs and cafes, library and some high street retailers. One of its main benefits is the railway station which runs a direct service to London Waterloo.