Blandford Forum is renowned for its town centre which is largely Georgian in character. The main annual event is the Georgian Fayre where period costumes are donned and market stalls line the streets.
The town is a handy shopping centre and there are several museums to keep you busy. The town is bounded by the River Stour and there are some lovely riverside walks to be had. Just outside the town is the Hall & Woodhouse Brewery. Real ales like Badger Ales are brewed here and you can visit for a brewery tour.
Blandford Forum is unusual in that it is almost entirely Georgian in character. A fire swept through the town in 1731 which meant that the rebuilding programme at that time has brought about a town originating from the one period. This is incredibly attractive to our eyes as not only is the town set off by a backdrop of typical Georgian architecture including porticoes and walled gardens, but the town recreates a Georgian atmosphere in its annual Georgian Fayre held on May Day where the residents dress in a variety of Georgian costumes. The day is held to celebrate the resurrection of the town after the fire. The streets in the town centre are closed to traffic from 7am to 7pm and are lined with stalls selling local produce and traditional locally made crafts. Street entertainers and a fair are also part of the fun. The Georgian Fayre is hugely popular attracting around 20,000 visitors! On the day there is parking just outside the town centre.
There is a good choice of attractions in and around Blandford Forum. The town is home to three museums, the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery Visitor Centre - famous for its real ales like Badger beer - and the world's leading steam fair, The Great Dorset Steam Fair is held nearby every year.
With so much going on it's no wonder there's a tourist information centre in the town where you can find out more about events and places to visit in the area. The centre is just near West Street car park. The town trail available from here is worth the minimal fee as it will take you round the town and explain the history of some of the buildings.
The Tourist Information Centre is open: Apr-Sept 10am-5pm Mon-Sat. Oct-Mar 10am-3pm Mon-Sat. Blandford Forum Tourist Information Centre, 1 Greyhound Yard, Blandford, Dorset DT11 7EB. Tel: 01258 454770. Fax: 01258 484094. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blandford Forum's town museum has a wide collection of everyday items illustrating Blandford Forum's local history spanning four hundred years. Within the museum are recreations of a forge, a cobbler's shop and a Victorian playroom. There are archaeological finds and fossils as well as World War memorabilia and antique musical instruments.
The museum is open from Apr-Sept from 11am-4pm Mon-sat and 1-4pm on Sundays. Blandford Forum Town Musuem, Bere's Yard, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 7HQ. Tel: 01258 450388 or 01258 458911. Group visits email: email@example.com. Disabled access email: pjandrews@uwclub or firstname.lastname@example.org. Education email: email@example.com
The Cavalcade of Costume Museum is in centre of Blandford Forum in a typical Georgian house built after the 1731 fire. It houses a collection historic costumes collected by Betty Penny MBE. Outfits date from the 1730s through to the 1970s and you can trace how costume has changed through the centuries. There is also a good collection of accessories including hats, purses and shoes. The museum is open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Monday. The Cavalcade of Costume Museum, Lime Tree House, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 7AA. Tel: 01258 453006.
Two miles east of Blandford is Blandford Camp that houses The Royal Signals Museum. This is the national museum of army communications and exhibits tell the story of military communications from the Napoleonic Wars onwards. Displays also include a history of the Royal Signals and Blandford Camp itself and additional displays such as Women at War which includes filmed interviews from women who served in the army telling the story of their experiences. The museum is open all year round Mon-Fri 10am-5pm and Saturdays Sundays and Bank Holidays 10am-4pm. Check the weblink right for more information. The Royal Signals Museum, Blandford Camp, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 8RH. Tel: 01258 482248. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Real ale brewers of Badger Ales, Hall & Woodhouse, are based in Blandford Forum. This family run business has been brewing ale since 1777 and one of their earliest contracts was to provide beer to the army based in Weymouth during the Napoleonic Wars.
The brewery complex, on the south west edge of Blandford Forum, has a Visitor Centre that is a must for any real ale aficionados. Here you can find out all about the history and brewing process of the brewery. You can also book onto Brewery Tours that take you behind the scenes to see the process at close hand. Tours run at 11.30am and 2.30pm from 1 May-30 September. You can book onto tours online or by contacting the brewery direct tel: 01258 486004.
No visit would be complete to the brewery without visiting the Brewery Shop where you can buy the whole Badger range of ales including Golden Glory, Tanglefoot and fantastically named beers like the Fursty Ferret and the Pickled Partidge! The Shop is open from Easter-1 October 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, 11am- 2pm Sunday. Closed Bank Holidays. There is also a restaurant on site which is open during lunchtimes.
The Visitor Centre is open from Easter to 1 October Mon-Sat 10.30am-5.30pm, Sunday 11am-2pm. You can also hire the centre for conferences and meetings. Check the link right for more information.