48 hours in... Wimborne Minster in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 14:26 18 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:59 20 February 2013

48 hours in… Wimborne Minster in Dorset

48 hours in… Wimborne Minster in Dorset

Famous for its food festival and as a centre for contemporary craft and design, James Kingston explores this historic town with its ancient river bridges and magnificent Minster

48 hours in Wimborne Minster

Famous for its food festival and as a centre for contemporary craft and design, James Kingston explores this historic town with its ancient river bridges and magnificent Minster

Wimborne Minster. Winter is held at bay just a little longer as the trees turn gorgeous shades of russet, red and gold, before shedding their leaves completely when the frosts arrive. Not straying very far from the historic centre of Wimborne, theres plenty to see including the magnificent Minster itself. Also, with many shops getting ready for the festive season, you could go back home laden down with gifts and happy memories of your visit.

Stroll around the town
Starting at the Minster Church of St Cuthburga, walk away from the north porch and turn left along Cook Row into Cornmarket, where the old stocks used to stand outside the 1758 Dutch-gabled Oddfellows Hall. Turn back and walk down narrow Church Street past the Oddfellows Arms to The Square. The Kings Head is late-18th century and, continuing along West Borough, Prezzos is in a fine 1830 building, both having elegant pillared porches. The Tivoli Theatre occupies one of Wimbornes previously notable 18th-century houses. Turn right at the lights into Priors Walk, where Allendale House, an imposing 1823 building, also has a pillared porch. Turn right again into East Borough, leading back to The Square. The Olive Branch dates back to the 17th century, and Percy House is another fine 18th-century house. In High Street, just past The Albion, recently completely rebuilt after last years devastating fire, the Priests House Museum is Wimbornes most complete medieval house.

Things to do
Discover Wimbornes ancient river bridges
The River Stour flows around the towns western edges, arriving first at Julians Bridge, which was built in 1636 with seven original arches. The River Allen meanders through the town, dividing into two en route. The Allen River Bridge at Walford Mill is a fine 17th-century six-arched stone bridge, with a seventh arch added about 1800. After running through the town and under the Eastbrook Bridge in King Street, the Allen joins the Stour at Canford Bridge, where a brand-new pedestrian bridge has been built alongside the 1813 triple-arched bridge.

Three things to take home

If youre looking for an unusual memento of your visit then seek out Tourist Information at 29 High Street, where Lindsay Lawrence sells unique colourful Dorset Button brooches, handmade in Wimborne, and greetings cards with scenes by local artist Jacqueline Speck. Contact 01202 886116 or ruraldorset.com
In Cook Row, Long Crichel Bakery and Tea Shop is in a lovely old building dating from the 1590s. Manager Ilze Kipena has a huge range of delicious bread and cakes all baked just outside Wimborne in Long Crichel. It also stocks locally produced Horton Honey and its own organic jams. Visit longcrichelbakery.co.uk or call 01258 830852
At Walford Mill in Stone Lane you can watch Dorset-born fine-silk weaver Debby Kirby working on her Harris loom. Debby dyes her silks with eco-dyes and produces beautiful fine-silk scarves, silk purses, bags, bow-ties and unique silk-paper pictures, framed or unframed. Every design is exclusive, and Debbys work has been exhibited at many leading galleries across the UK. See more of her work at debbykirby.co.uk

Explore the magnificent Minster
The foundation of the Minster Church goes back to about AD705 when Cuthburga, sister to West Saxon King Ina, founded a nunnery here for 500 nuns. Many of the nuns went with St Boniface to pagan Germany as missionaries. The Vikings destroyed the nunnery in 1013, and the present church dates from around 1120. The 14th-century Orrery clock is a testament to the amazing skills of the craftsmen nearly 700 years ago, and the Quarter Jack has been ringing the quarter hour since 1612.

Browse around Walford Mill
There has been a mill at the Walford river crossing since the 16th century. The present building in Stone Lane dates from around 1760 but, when it ceased milling in 1966, its chequered career included periods as a coal yard, builders yard and furniture showroom. When the estate was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1982, Wimborne Council bought the mill complex, renovated it including sand-blasting layers of limewash off the internal brick walls and invited Dorset Craft Guild to lease it. Nearly 25 years later, Walford Mill has a national reputation as a centre of excellence for contemporary craft and design, with an active annual programme of courses and workshops for all ages. Contact 01202 841400, walfordmillcrafts.co.uk

Soak up some history at Kingston Lacy
Just 1 miles west of Wimborne, this elegant 17th-century country house was the seat of the Bankes family for over 300 years and is renowned for its lavish interiors, including paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Titian. Thanks to 19th-century adventurer William John Bankes it also has the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK. The house is open from mid-March until the end of October but during November there are special Putting the House to Bed Tours. Enjoy a stroll around the restored Japanese tea garden or kitchen garden (open daily 10.30am-4pm until 23 December) or explore the estate via several waymarked walks through the surrounding parkland, which is dominated by the Iron Age hill fort of Badbury Rings. In autumn dont miss the famous B3082 Beech Avenue in its full coppery glory. More details nationaltrust.org.uk or call 01202 883402

Eating out
In a town whose late October Food Festival draws in crowds from around the county, youll be spoilt for choice! Prezzos in West Borough is great for an Italian supper their Pollo Mariano is delicious. But this is just one of the many excellent restaurants in Wimborne, including Topogigios in Mill Lane. Theres no shortage of great pubs serving delicious hearty bar meals including Oddfellows Arms in Church Street, The White Hart in Cornmarket, The Albion in High Street, the Pudding and Pye in West Street and the Cricketers Arms in Park Lane.
For a light bite try Sorrels, Bakehouse Caf or Coffee Pots in High Street, Primizia, The Laughing Pot and the Tivolis Cedar Room in West Borough, The Riverside Caf down Mill Lane, the Bistro at Walford Mill or the Quarterjack in Cook Row.

Transport to and around Wimborne:
Buses: to Wimborne include Wilts and Dorset 3 from Poole, X3 from Bournemouth and Salisbury, and 36/36a from Bournemouth and Ringwood. Damory Coaches services include 301/302 from Salisbury, 302 and 315 from Blandford, and 303 and 324 from Cranborne.
Tourist Information: 29 High Street. 01202 886116 or ruraldorset.com

Diary dates
Kingston Lacy

19 November: Putting the House to Bed Tour. Discover the work that goes into preparing the house for winter. Tours at 10.30am and 2pm. Theres also an exciting programme of friday Lecture/Lunches in the Study Centre at Kingston Lacy at 11am followed by lunch in the Stables Restaurant.
5 November: Medieval Manor of Kingston Lacy by Martin Papworth
12 November: The Japanese Influence at Kingston Lacy by Madeleine Rock
26 November: The Libraries of the National Trust by Mark Purcell
Booking essential for all events 01202 883402.
Walford Mill Craft Centre
30 October 2 January 2011: Hidden Treasures exhibition is the ideal place to seek out an unusual Christmas gift. Walford Mill, Stone Lane, Wimborne Minster, BH21 1NL. 01202 841400
Wimborne Minster
13 November: 7.30pm. Bournemouth Bach Choir Baroque Splendour Concert. 01202 884753, wimborneminster.org.uk

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