town in Dorset, United Kingdom

Dorchester is the county town of Dorset. A market town with an undoubtedly long history, Dorchester has connections to Thomas Hardy, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Roman Britain, and today features a wide range of visitor attractions, independent retailers and eateries.

The Corn Exchange, Dorchester

Understand edit

Tourist Information Centre edit

Get in edit

A new park and ride service is now available, see National Park and Ride Directory

By train edit

Dorchester has two train stations. The tourism website has advice on travelling via rail].

By bus edit

National Express Coaches stop at Dorchester from London Victoria.

Get around edit

Travelling around Dorchester in particular and West Dorset as a whole is easy by private or public transport.

See edit

  • 1 Maiden Castle, Maiden Castle Road, DT2 9PP (About a one-hour walk or 15-min drive south from the town centre along Weymouth Avenue and Maiden Castle Road. (The #10 bus will take you only part way.)). Open any reasonable time during daylight hours. The largest surviving hillfort in England. Dating from around 3000 BC, the site is of great historical significance and is maintained by English Heritage. Free.    
  • 2 Shire Hall Historic Courthouse, High West Street DT1 1UY, +44 1305 261849. M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Brings over 200 years of justice and injustice to life. Walk in the footsteps of people whose lives were forever changed in the historic court at Dorchester’s Shire Hall. Famous for the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834. Adult £9.50, child £5.    
  • 3 Roman Town House, The Grove and Northernhay (just north of High Street). A Roman ruin on the County Hall site, the Town House has two principal ranges of rooms. The South Range has flint and stone walls on the grass-covered site. The West Range was mosaic floored. This range has been re-excavated and covered with a steel and glass building with a stone tiled roof perched on the original foundations. Free.    
  • 4 Hardy's Cottage, Higher Bockhampton, DT2 8QJ (3 miles east of Dorchester), +44 1305 262366, . Thatched cottage where Thomas Hardy was born and penned some early novels, plus country garden.    
  • 5 Max Gate, Alington Avenue, DT1 2FN, +44 1305 262538, . Thomas Hardy's former townhouse, designed by him in 1885, with furnished rooms and a walled garden.    
  • 6 Cerne Abbas Giant, Cerne Abbas, DT2 7AL, +44 1297 489481, . A giant figure carved into the side of a hill by removing turf to expose white chalk.    
  • 7 Maumbury Rings, Maumbury Road at Weymouth Avenue (A 15-min walk south of the town centre). A large circular earthwork, 85 metres in diameter. During the Roman period, it was adapted for use as an amphitheatre. During the English Civil War, it was used as an artillery fort guarding the southern approach to Dorchester. It is now a public open space, and used for open-air concerts, festivals and re-enactments, and as a dog-walking park. Free.    

Museums edit

  • 8 The Tutankhamun Exhibition, 25 High W St, DT1 1UW, +44 1305 269571, . 10AM-5PM (winter hours from 10AM-4PM). Replicas of Tutankhamun's tomb, its artefacts and mummies displayed with photos in an old church. Adults £8.99, child £6.99.    
  • 9 Teddy Bear Museum, Eastgate, DT1 1JU (corner of High East St. & Salisbury St), +44 1305 2660401, . 10AM - 5PM. Family-friendly attraction with antique and life-size teddy bears and a collector's room. The Terracotta Army (replica) exhibition is in the same building.    
    • 10 Terracotta Warriors Museum, High East St, DT1 1JU, +44 1305 266040. Snug museum with replicas of the warriors from the Terracotta Army buried with the Emperor of China. Adult £6.50, child (over 5) £4.50.
  • 11 Dorset County Museum, High West Street, DT1 1XA, +44 1305 262735, . Thomas Hardy's study, a history of Dorset archaeology, nature and the Jurassic Gallery - an exhibition of fossil finds from England's first natural World Heritage site - the Jurassic Coast. Includes Hitler's desk from the Reichsministry!    
  • 12 Dorchester Dinosaur Museum, Icen Way, DT1 1EW, +44 1305 269880. 10AM-5PM (winter hours: 10AM-4PM).    
  • 13 Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, Dorchester Road, Tolpuddle, Dorset, DT2 7EH, +44 1305 848 237. Apr-Oct: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM; Nov–Mar: Th-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 11AM-4PM. A museum charting the history of the Tolpuddle martyrs and their struggle for labour rights in the early 19th century. Free.

Do edit

Come on a Wednesday and experience the lively atmosphere of market day in town. On the first Saturday of the month you can take a trip to Prince Charles' internationally renowned Poundbury and enjoy the Farmers' Market.

Buy edit

Local produce from the regular markets and farmers' markets in town. These are a great opportunity to discover local handcrafted and home-produced items and pick up a bargain!

Eat edit

Dorchester has a varied selection of restaurants, but is fairly limited in quality.

Drink edit

There are many excellent pubs and bars in the county town of Dorchester, so prepare to be spoilt for choice!

Sleep edit

  • 1 The Casterbridge, 49 High E St, +44 1305 264043.
  • King's Arms, 30 High E St DT1 1HF, +44 1305 238238. Pleasant coaching inn with restaurant and rooms in town centre. B&B double £100.
  • 2 Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton DT2 8PZ, +44 1305 262382. Charming thatched country restaurant with 8 rooms surrounded by sheep. Open mid-Jan to mid Dec. B&B double £110.
  • 3 Daisys,, +44 1305 262382. Luxury holiday cottages for 3 in the heart of Dorchester

Go next edit

Routes through Dorchester
Lyme RegisBridport  W   E  PooleBournemouth
BristolYeovil  N   S  END
END  N   S  WeymouthIsle of Portland

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