Blandford, Dorset – England’s finest Georgian rural market town – lies nestled in a wooded valley on the banks of the River Stour, surrounded by gentle rolling hills. The town was completely destroyed by fire in 1731 and was rebuilt in the following decades by two local architects, brothers John and William Bastard. Blandford Forum boasts some outstanding architecture, a selection of fascinating museums, shops and galleries, and is home to the annual Great Dorset Steam Fair. One not to be missed on your Dorset holiday!
Blandford Dorset and the surrounding villages offer a range of good quality inspected accommodation from inns and cosy B&Bs to holiday cottages and holiday parks.
The ‘Forum’ that gives Blandford its name is its beautiful open market place surrounded by the distinctive Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, the Great Fire Monument, the Greyhound and Red Lion buildings and the Corn Exchange (town hall).
A short walk uphill from the market place are the Ryves Almshouses in Salisbury Street and the Old House in The Close, both survivors of the fire in 1731. East Street, West Street, Salisbury Street and the lanes in between are all lined with fine Georgian buildings.
The liveliest days to visit Blandford Forum are Thursdays and Saturdays when the market is in full swing. Farmers markets are also held here monthly and provide an excellent opportunity to meet local food producers and sample their wares.
The Cavalcade of Costume Museum, which is located in a lovingly restored Georgian townhouse, features over 250 years of historical costumes. Visitors can enjoy new exhibitions and a friendly welcome in both the museum and its popular tea room.
An absorbing and eclectic depiction of life, industry and culture in and around Blandford can be seen at the Blandford Museum in Beres Yard. Exhibitions include Victorian children’s toys, war mementoes, artefacts from nearby neolithic settlements and a diorama of the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford.
Dorset’s fastest growing family visitor attraction is the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford Camp. See exhibitions on the ENIGMA machine, spies, code breaking, secret agents, the elite forces and the science and technology of communications. There are also fun trails, high-tech interactive displays and much more.
Find out the story of the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery from its humble beginnings on the Dorset Downs to its current world-class brewing operation in Blandford. There are daytime and evening brewery tours, which include a free pint. Badger ales and quality pub food are available at lunchtime and in the evenings.
Not far from Blandford and also well worth a visit are Compton Abbas Airfield at Ashmore with a new Flying Aces Museum and Falconry Centre, Larmer Tree Gardens at Tollard Royal and Milton Abbey at Milton Abbas set in sweeping downland landscaped by Capability Brown.
BLANDFORD FORUM HOLIDAY FACT FILE
Blandford Forum Tourist Information Centre
1 Greyhound Yard, Blandford, Dorset DT11 7EB
Tel: 01258 454770
How to reach Blandford, Dorset by public transport
There are regular bus services to Blandford Forum from Bournemouth, Dorchester, Poole, Salisbury, Shaftesbury and Weymouth (not Sundays) and more limited services to Sturminster Newton and Wimborne.