Blandford:Georgian architecture,the military & beer
Blandford,or Blandford Forum to give it's full title, sits on the banks of the River Stour almost right in middle of Dorset.
Bland is what it is not. It is an excellent example of Georgian architecture,being totally rebuilt by John and William Bastard after a fire in 1731.
The town gets a mention in the Doomsday Book with the Forum bit,from the Latin for "market", being added later. Given the abundance of Georgian architecture a Georgian Fayre is held in the first week of May each year.The Market Place is the focal point of events with bands covering all genres from military to rock music.People even dress up in Georgian costume.
Speaking of dress there is a costume museum called Cavalcade of Costume Museum located at Lime Tree House The Plocks up the hill from the Market Place.This displays costumes from the last 250 years.It iis open from 1am to 4pm all year those it is closed mid December to mid February.Admission is £3.50 for adults.
There is also a Town Museum located off the Market Place in Bere's Yard showing history from the stone age to the present day.Note it is closed from October to April.Admission is free.
As with all older English towns traffic and parking is a problem,but I found an excellent free car park across the Stour River.It sits behind the Hall & Woodhouse Brewery.
To find it approach Blandford from Poole on the A350 and when you reach the by pass roundabout go straight on passing Tesco's supermarket on the right.Go along this road to the first right turn.You will pass a Homebase on your left.Note the is a height restricter at the entrance to this car park, so no campervans please.
Park your car here and it is a 5 minute walk into the town centre reached by crossing a footbridge over the river Stour.On the other side you will see a Morrisons supermarket.Walk past this supermarket,keeping it on your left and you will reach the Tourist Information Office where friendly staff will give you all the information you need.Leave this office turn left, and you will end up in the Market Place the centre of the town.
There are good bus links to the town from Poole go
for the timetable.
Sorry no trains,last one left in 1966,though the track has now become a pathway into the town centre.There is a nice walk from Milldown a grassland area to the north west of the town centre which follows the old track.There is free parking here so another way of avoiding charges.
The centre of Blandford is dominated a rather tired looking Church of St Peter & Paul,but the rest of the street displays the Georgian architecture for which the town is famous,including the Corn Exchange.
If you want a break for lunch I would recommend the 1/2 Crown Cafe on the corner of Salisbury Street & Market Place.Serves good coffee,including latte and cappuccino, as well as sandwiches,salads and soup.It's the type of place that has a leather sofa where you can sit and read the paper.
If you want even more museums there is the Royal Signals Museum located to the east of the town.Too far to walk, leave the Market Place to the east and look for a sign to the museum of the left.
The Museum is open Monday to Friday all year and Saturday and Sunday from February to October,10am to 4pm.Entrance is £6.50 for adults and £4 for children,family ticket is £18.50.The museum records the use of communication equipment in war from the Crimean War to the present day.There is even an Enigma cryptographic machine here, used to break German codes during World War Two.
Hall & Woodhouse
If beer is more your scene then go to the Hall & Woodhouse brewery which is behind the car park mentioned above.The Visitor Centre is open Monday to Saturday 11am to 2pm and on Sunday from Easter to October.There is also a shop where you can buy stacks of beer,and if that inspires you take the brewery tour which is held at 11am and 7pm each day .Cost is £6 for adults.
The tour takes you through the brewing process and allows you to smell the hops and yes drink beer.
You will need to book this tour so call the brewery on 01258 486004
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