A day in…Wimborne Minster
- Credit: Samantha Cook Photography
Famous for its Minster, markets and model village
Five miles north of Poole, Wimborne Minster is an historic town perhaps best known for its market held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Wimborne Market (Riverside Park) is the largest undercover market in the South of England where you can expect to find pretty much anything and everything. From fresh local produce to antiques, vintage clothing and a nail technician.
Steeped in history
Planning restrictions in the area means that almost all of Wimborne’s original buildings have been preserved, with many fronted shops in the town dating back to the 16th century. A host of independent retailers and cafes can be found in the Square, including the Square Corner (7 The Square) which sells a wide range greetings cards, gifts and delicious Belgian chocolate. It is also home to the Kings Head Hotel, which is set in an imposing 18th century building and has both a bar and restaurant.
As you’d expect in Wimborne, its main museum - The Priest’s House Museum – is set in a Grade II listed town house dating from the 16th century. Its focus is dedicated to rural life in Dorset and specifically, to the goings-on in a market town; a walled garden, gift shop and tearoom can be found onsite.
Complete with original chrome and Bakelite door handles, the 1930’s Art Deco style Tivoli Theatre (West Borough) is a thriving arts venue which attracts some surprisingly big names. Wimborne is a hive of activity in June (7-9) when the Folk Festival comes to town and the streets fill with dancers and musicians spanning the current folk spectrum.
The Minster Church (29 High Street) has existed for over 1,300 years and continues to be a centre for pilgrimage, prayer and worship. Its unusual chained library, with its books attached to their bookcase by a chain, is one of only four surviving chained libraries in the world. The church is also the resting place of King Ethelred of Wessex.
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A feast for foodies
Foodies should head for The Tickled Pig on West Borough. Opened last year by Jez Barfoot, a BBC Masterchef finalist, and his wife, its ethos is to take food back to its roots and it features a seasonal menu of local food some coming from the Tickled Pig’s own small holding. At the end of October the whole town is given over to celebrating local food at the Wimborne Food Festival (26-27 October) which attracts local producers from far and wide.
Despite having been built over 60 years ago Wimborne Model Town (King Street) continues to impress visitors with its 1/10th scale models that join together to form a miniature 1950s rural market town. Visitors are free to roam around the buildings, to get a feel for the level of detail involved in their construction. Wendy Street is a play area for younger visitors, who will also be captivated by the interactive model railway layouts, which includes characters from Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.
Out of town…
Kingston Lacy, an elegant country mansion owned by the National Trust, is a short drive from Wimborne. The formal gardens and extensive parkland are a delight no matter what time of year you visit.
Just a quarter of a mile north of Wimborne is Walford Mill Crafts, which sells contemporary crafts from over 200 local and national designers. The craft centre is set inside a converted mill building set alongside the River Allen. The Mill has its own cafe serving homemade lunches, cakes and drinks.
Knoll Gardens, also on the outskirts of Wimborne, have been regular Chelsea Flower Show gold medallists with their impressive dsiplays of grasses. Their gardens open to the public from early February to late December.