Gillingham is a market town and railhead for north Dorset with buses to the nearby historic towns of Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton. Beware there is another Gillingham in Kent: specify 'Gillingham Dorset' to avoid confusion. Both places share the same spelling but Gillingham (Kent) is pronounced 'Jillingham'. This Gillingham (in Dorset) is pronounced with the usual 'g' sound, as in 'girl'.
Gillingham Museum covers the history of the town and surrounding area, including the local brick making industry.
A highlight is a display of John Constable's paintings and sketches from his visits to Gillingham. Exhibtions room.
Open MTThFS 1000-1230.
Shaftesbury is a historic small market town on a hill with attractive stone buildings. It includes picturesque Gold Hill, a steep cobbled street made famous by a TV advert for Hovis bread. From Park Walk there are great views over Blackmore Vale and the views from Castle Green include Glastonbury Tor on a clear day.
TI tel. 01747 853514.
Bus 2 from station to Shaftesbury Town Hall, about 15 minutes journey. M-F mostly ½-hourly. Return bus from Bell Street Car Park. Operated by South West Coaches.
The Museum tells the story of the Abbey and its destruction on the orders of Henry VIII. There are displays of
medieval stonework and an interactive virtual tour. Excavated remains of the Abbey can be seen in the peaceful walled garden which
also features traditional roses, fruit trees and a herb garden.
Open Apr-Oct, Daily 1000-1600.
Bus to Shaftesbury, see above.
Housed in two historic buildings at the top of picturesque Gold Hill, the Museum tells the story of rural and town life.
Highlights include Dorset's oldest fire engine, lacework, costumes, handmade buttons and a mummified cat.
Open Apr-Oct, Daily 1030-1630.
Bus to Shaftesbury, see above.
Sturminster Newton is a small market town on the River Stour. Locally it is known as 'Stur'. The town centre is an attractive mixture of styles with thatched cottages, Georgian stone buildings and later brick buildings. The car park adjacent to the bus stop was the site of the railway station.
Bus 3 from station to Sturminster Newton Car Park, about 30 minutes journey. M-F infrequent but suitable for visiting. Return buses from the same bus stop. Operated by South West Coaches.
The Museum covers the history of Sturminster Newton and its surrounding villages. Topics include the once thriving
cattle market, cheese and glove making industries, and the social history of the area. A highlight is a working model of the railway
station (closed in 1966) on the Somerset & Dorset Railway. Events programme.
Open Apr-mid Dec, MThF 1000-1600, Sat 1000-1230. Feb-Mar, MFS 1000-1230.
Bus to Sturminster Newton, see above.
The picturesque and fully working watermill has three floors of machinery to explore.
Events programme. Light refreshments. Picnic area adjacent.
Open Apr-Sep, MThSSu 1100-1700.
Bus to Sturminster Newton, see above, then ¾ mile walk.
A small medieval stone manor house with splendid timber roofs over the great hall and solar chamber.
The principal parts can be seen but the adjoining building is a private residence and not open to visitors. Admission free.
Open Daily 1000-1800 (1600 Oct-Mar).
Bus to Sturminster Newton, see above, then 1¼ miles walk.
A world-famous landscape garden surrounding a lake. Features include classical temples and a grotto.
The House with Palladian architecture, Chippendale furniture and paintings is also open in summer. Restaurant.
Open Daily 0900-1600 (1500 Nov-Mar), House from 1100.
Bus 58 from station to Zeals, Chapel Lane, then 1¼ miles walk. About 15 minutes journey, M-S every 1-2 hours. Return from the same stop as the bus operates a one-way loop through Zeals. Operated by South West Coaches.