Wimborne Minster is a main centre in East Dorset. It's a beautiful town with a huge array of original historic buildings that have been preserved through the centuries. The breathtaking backdrop of Wimborne Minster towers over the town centre and contains several historic artefacts from Roman and Saxon times.
Wimborne is also a family friendly location with Wimborne Model Town on the outskirts of the town centre, the Priest's House Museum and of course a good choice of shops and cafes.
Wimborne Minster (or plain Wimborne as it's also known) is a beautifully preserved historic market town in East Dorset. It lies in the river valley between the River Stour and the River Allen. If you like historic buildings then Wimborne is the place for you. The town is considered to have one of the best collections of fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth century buildings in Dorset. The streets are lined with original shops from this period and almost all the original buildings at the Corn Market and High Street have been well preserved. You can follow the town's Historic Trail which combines three trails into one that takes around two hours. Along the way you'll find green plaques at places of historic interest. You can pick up a leaflet and map from the Tourist Information Centre for a nominal fee.
Wimborne is an excellent shopping centre with an array of independent shops. Don't miss the fantastically decorated organic and whole food health food shop Spill the Beans on West Street. The 1930s Tivoli Theatre on West Borough was saved from demolition in 1979 and has since been restored by volunteers. It now regularly hosts a programme of films, plays, musicals and live music in its 500 seat theatre.
Wimborne's Tourist Information Centre is handily placed in the centre of the attractions opposite the Minster itself. It's well stocked with leaflet and books on the town and the surrounding countryside.
Wimborne Tourist Information Centre, 29 High Street, Wimborne Minster, Dorset, BH21 1HR. Tel: 01202 886116. Email: WimborneTIC@eastdorsetdc.gov.uk
Towering impressively over the town centre is Wimborne Minster that gives the town its name. The site dates from 705 AD when St Cuthberga, sister to Ina, the King of the West Saxons, founded a nunnery on the site of the Minster. Many of the nuns followed St Boniface as missionaries to Germany. The nunnery was destroyed by the Vikings in 1013 but a Saxon chest still survives and is kept in the Minster today.
The Minster itself dates from 1120 although there have been additions throughout the centuries. In 1612 the Quarter Jack clock was added which you can see on the north side of the West Tower. It still strikes the bells every quarter of an hour today; although the figure was originally a monk but was painted as a grenadier during the Napoleonic Wars.
The central tower is the oldest part of the Minster and was once topped with a spire. This apparently fell during a service in 1600! Down a spiral staircase in the Old Treasury is the Chained Library - one of the first public libraries ever to exist. This was founded in 1686 and is the second largest chained library in the country. You can see a lambskin manuscript in a case dating from 1343 as well as a book bound for the court of King Henry VIII.
The Minster is open to visitors on Mon-Sat: 9.30am-5.30pm and Sun: mornings for services only then 2.30-5.30pm occasionally.
Across the square from the Minster is the Priest's House Museum and Garden. The house has been restored to show how people would have lived from the seventeenth century Grand Hall through to a Georgian Parlour and working Victorian Kitchen. The museum also holds collections on archaeology, local and social history.
The Priest's House in which the museum is housed is a sixteenth century Grade II listed town house next door to the Tourist Information Centre. There is also a garden open to visitors which leads down to the River Allen and includes a display of large agricultural and horticultural tools. For refreshments the Boat-house Tea Room is also found in the garden.
The Museum also hosts exhibitions that periodically change. Check their weblink right for up-to-date information.
The Museum is open Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm. The Priest's House Museum & Garden, 23-27 High Street, Wimborne Minster Dorset BH21 1HR. Tel: 01202 882533. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Every June Wimborne hosts its main event of the year - the Wimborne Folk Festival. A variety of acts perform traditional English and Celtic music and dance in and around Wimborne Minster. There are also workshops and kids entertainment throughout the town during the festival.
This is the largest folk festival in the South of England and has been an annual event since 1980. It now lasts over a weekend and attracts musicians, morris dancers and folk acts from all over the country.
Being such a large event a festival campsite is set up in school grounds just eight minutes walk from the town centre. You can buy season tickets which include camping or a season ticket for just the festival itself. These give you unlimited access to all events during the festival. Alternatively you can buy individual event tickets but these are limited so you'd need to book early. Accommodation is likely to become scarce during the Festival so make sure you book early!
During the Folk Festival market stalls, craft and charity stalls and local traders are open during the event with the emphasis on supplying local produce and supporting local businesses. Check the weblink right for up-to-date information on this year's festival.
On the edge of the town centre is Wimborne Model Town. A group of local men dreamt up the idea of creating a model of Wimborne in the 1940s. It first opened in 1951 and depicted a 1/10th scale model of Wimborne at that time including the shop fronts with their characteristic boardings. It fast became a popular family attraction and despite having become neglected, moved and restored it continues to entertain today with its accurate, true to life representation.
The model village is surrounded by gardens which make a nice spot to sit and admire the view or have a spot of lunch. There is a gift shop on site selling a whole host of souvenirs, gifts and postcards as well as a tearoom for refreshments.
It's truly a family friendly attraction with a play area for the kids, a putting green and worksheets to keep everyone occupied around the model village. Special events are organised throughout the year including special themed days and Candlelight Evenings when the model town is lit up by candlelight.
Check the weblink right for more information and virtual tours of the model town. Wimborne Minster Model Town, King Street, Wimborne Minster, Dorset BH21 1DY. Tel: 01202 881924 Email: email@example.com