Shaftesbury is probably best known for Gold Hill. The iconic cobbled street was made famous more than 40 years ago when Ridley Scott directed the Hovis advert. If you watch it on YouTube, the accent is pure West Country and not Yorkshire!
The town has much more to offer, though. The Abbey, which was demolished by Henry VIII in the dissolution, was built in 888 and for 600 years was the most important in the land. It is now a garden and museum but a very ambitious plan is in place to use high tech equipment and historical archives to bring it back to (virtual) life.
Find out more about the SAVED project at http://shaftesburyabbey.org.uk.
Park Walk is a breath of fresh air – literally. It was built for people to come to the town and take in the air, but Castle Hill looking out to the North has equally breath-taking views.
Most visitors to the town are enchanted by the High Street’s numerous independent shops, selling everything from hardware to fresh bread and with many gift ideas. The town also has numerous places to pause and have a coffee or a meal, mostly in businesses also independent. In a recent health check, Shaftesbury came second in the county.
It’s not a bad place to work either, and the two trading estates, Longmead and Wincome house many small and thriving businesses as well as two or three larger ones.
About 100 of the shops and businesses are members of Shaftesbury and District Chamber of Commerce, which has been working for the community for well over 60 years. The other remarkable thing about the town is the many long-standing organisations run by volunteers.
They include Hilltop litter pickers, the open spaces group, and Shaftesbury in Bloom, all working tirelessly to keep the town special. If these were not enough reasons to visit Shaftesbury, there are also many major events throughout the year.
The small regular market is on every Thursday, Dorset farmers’ market every first Saturday, and the Cobbles market every third Sunday. In February, the Snowdrop Season is celebrated with
many snowdrop-themed events. As the weather warms up, the town fills with the annual Food Festival, featuring the Gold Hill cheese race, this year on Sunday May 13. On July 1, the Rotary Club’s Gold Hill Fair takes over the High Street and Park Walk. This coincides with Shaftesbury Fringe, June 29 to July 1 a grand and varied festival of music, comedy and other entertainment at various venues around the town.
In December, the Chamber of Commerce’s late night shopping and Christmas spectacular, on December 3, is followed by the full Christmas Market , December 16.
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(Photo by James Thrift photography)