Find the nearest History & Heritage in Dorset
Our History and Heritage category brings all Coast Radar’s Dorset listings related to looking for something to do or a place to visit together where they offer some form of historic or heritage based activity.
Finding the best things to see and do on a Dorset day out with your family or friends is easy – simply explore the historic and heritage links below, hit the jump to my location button or use the search bar to plan your next Dorset activity.
- Cerne Abbas Giant is a huge outline sculpted into the chalk hillside above the village of Cerne Abbas representing a naked, club-wielding giant. The outline is 180ft tall making it Britain’s largest chalk hill figure and probably the most controversial. Managed by the National Trust, although parking is on the roadside and the nearest facilities are in the village Cerne Abbas.
- The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, also known as Sherborne Abbey, has been a Saxon cathedral (705–1075), a Benedictine abbey (998–1539), and now stands as a beautiful parish church. Today you can see parts of the original saxon church in the abbey’s facade, but by far its most striking feature is the 15th Century fan vaulted ceiling. Some of the other original monastery building are now occupied by Sherbourne school.
- Shaftesbury is a charming market town and Dorset’s only hilltop town founded over 1,000 years ago as the home of King Alfred’s citadel Benedictine Abbey. The Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and garden brings to life the story of the Abbey and its inhabitants. The walled garden includes excavations of the Abbey Church. The Gold Hill is a charming collection of traditional sandstone cottages on a steep cobbled stone hill. This is one of the most photographed roads in England and has featured in TV commercials.
- Sherborne actually has two castles. The now ruins of Sherborne Old castle which was built in the 12th century as a strongly defended palace, Sherborne Old Castle became a powerful Royalist base during the Civil War. Sherborne Castle ‘new castle’ was built in 1594 by Sir Walter Raleigh as a stately home and now reflects over 400 years of English history. The 42 acres of grounds includes the 50-acre lake created by Capability Brown in 1753 and magnificent landscaped gardens of specimen trees, borders and sweeping lawns. The Castle’s interiors include collections of art, furniture and porcelain, together with Raleigh’s original kitchen, family artefacts and archaeological ‘finds’ from the old medieval castle on view in the castle cellars. The Castle Tea Room serves morning coffees, light lunches and afternoon teas, whilst the Gift Shop has a selection of gifts, souvenirs and our very own Sherborne Castle wines.
- Christchurch Castle is a Norman motte and bailey castle that has stonework dated to 1160 AD. The castle’s site is inside the old Saxon Burh dominating the River Avon’s lowest crossing. Alonmgside the castle you have a chamber block now known as the Norman House.
- The Russel Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is located next to the Royal Bath Hotel on East Cliff. The building itself is a Grade II listed building originally known as East Cliff Hall. East Cliff Hall was the home of Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes, designed by the architect, John Frederick Fogerty but with significant input from Merton and Annie. Buyilding started in 1897 and was completed in 1901. The house was to be a showcase, not simply for their own enjoyment, but also for the people of Bournemouth to whom it was given. As well as the resident exhibits the museum and gallery hosts ever changing exhibitions, please check the website for opening times and what is currently showing.
- This simple thatched cottage in Higher Bockhampton was where Thomas Hardy was born in 1840. The quaint cottage, remote setting and natural beauty of this location helps explain the Hardy’s great writing. Thomas Hardy spent most of his life in an around Dorchester.
- Max Gate was the home of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy – it is believed Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and the Mayor of Casterbridge were written here. Thomas Hardy designed this red-brick mansion himself and lived here for the last 40 years of his life, and died here on 1928, although his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey, Thomas was a Dorset man through and through.