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Local Attractions

Poundbury

Resting on 400 acres of land, Poundbury is the brainchild of Prince Charles, the Prince’s vision was to create a community that could prove there was a genuine alternative to the current way government and local councils go about building communities in the UK.  Poundbury is a place where people have priority over cars and where traditional village life could continue as it has done in the UK for centuries.

Dorchester

The county town of Dorset and founded by the Romans, Dorchester was a small market town formany centuries and did not grow substantially until the 19th Century. The town has boomed in recent years with the addition of Poundbury. Places to visit around Dorchester include: the Iron Age Hill Fort at Maiden Castle, the Roman Maumbury Rings, Thomas Hardy’s cottage at Higher Bockhampton and the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum in Tolpuddle.

Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle is one of the largest and most complex Iron Age hillforts in Europe. Its huge multiple ramparts, mostly built in the 1st Century BC, once protected hundreds of residents. When it was first built, the gleaming white chalk ramparts would have towered over the surrounding landscape.

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Hardy's Cottage

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage is a small cob and thatch building that is the birthplace of English author, Thomas Hardy. He was born there in 1840 and lived in the cottage until he was 34, during which time he wrote the novels Under The Greenwood Tree (1872) and Far From The Madding Crowd (1874).

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Poundbury Hill Fort

Poundbury Hill Fort is the site of a Middle Bronze Age enclosure.  It is roughly rectangular and it’s likely it was designed to command views over the River Frome and the Frome Valley to the north. The main entrance to the fort is on the eastern end. It overlooks the county town of Dorchester.

Sculpture By The Lakes

Nestled in 26 acres of Dorset’s glorious countryside lies Sculpture by the Lakes, an oasis for art lovers and collectors alike, and created by renowned sculptor, Simon Gudgeon.  Simon’s vision was to blend nature’s beauty with inspiring works of art, free from the constraints of the enclosed spaces of a traditional gallery.

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Athelhampton House and Gardens

Athelhampton House is a spectacular 15th Century Tudor country house five miles east of Dorchester.  The Great Hall, with its linenfold panelling, heraldic stained glass, large fireplace and historic furnishings, is a superb example of Tudor architecture and a must-see.  The house and gardens provide an excellent historical experience and is a great day out for all the family.

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Dorset County Museum

The Dorset County Museum is an independent museum, owned and managed by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society.  Founded in 1846, the museum covers the county of Dorset’s history and environment and includes over two million artefacts associated with archaeology (e.g. Maiden Castle), geology (e.g. the Jurassic Coast), history, local writers (e.g. Thomas Hardy) and natural science. There are video displays, activity carts for children and an audio guide. The collections include fossilised dinosaur footprints, Roman mosaics and original Thomas Hardy manuscripts.

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Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum tells the tale of the Martyrs’ arrest, trial and punishment, leading to the foundation of modern day trade unionism. The museum is a modern, informative and educational exhibition, using interactive touch screen displays to tell the story in text and images. Visitors can discover for themselves how the Tolpuddle Martyrs changed the face of social history and, through their beliefs and actions, made such a huge impact on society.

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The Tutankhamun Exhibition

Following the success of the Treasures of Tutankhamun Exhibition at the British Museum in London, this is the original Tutankhamun Exhibition.  It’s unique for its innovative approach and features Tutankhamun’s major treasures meticulously recreated, wherever possible in their original materials, and has been extensively featured on television programmes and major documentaries across the world.

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Teddy Bear Museum

This unmissable family museum in Dorchester has a growing collection of teddy bears dating back as early as 1906. There are literally hundreds of cute teddy bears waiting to meet you!

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Abbotsbury Swannery & Subtropical Gardens

Abbotsbury Swannery is the only managed colony of nesting mute swans in the world. The colony can number over 600 swans with around 150 pairs. A visit to the Swannery is considered one of the best things to do in Dorset.  Winner of a silver medal at Chelsea and a silver gilt at Hampton Court Show, the subtropical gardens are arguably one of the best gardens of its type in the world. The magnificent Victorian walled garden is set in 20 acres of woodland valley with the unique microclimate enabling rare and exotic species from all over the world to thrive.

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The Dinosaur Museum

This attraction is the only museum in mainland Britain solely devoted to dinosaurs. Real fossils, skeletons and life-size reconstructions combine with hands-on displays to excite, enthral and entertain the visitor.

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Terracotta Warriors Museum

This small but inspiring exhibition celebrates the Terracotta Army of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang di, whose tomb was protected by 8000+ fantastic life-size clay warriors. Now referred to as the eighth wonder of the ancient world, the exhibition features a small but spectacular group of these warriors, which have been specially replicated by museum and conservation technicians in China and skilled craftsmen and specialists of World Heritage.

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Cranborne Chase

Cranborne Chase is a chalk plateau which straddles the counties of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire.  The plateau is part of the English Chalk Formation and is adjacent to Salisbury Plain, with the West Wiltshire Downs in the north and the Dorset Downs to the south-west.  Nearly 1,000 square kilometres of Cranborne Chase and the West Wiltshire Downs has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the sixth largest in the country. The highest point is Win Green, in Wiltshire, at 910 ft (277 m).

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