A Day Out in Dorchester
For anyone who is a bit of a history buff and likes a bite of traditional English lunch, then Dorchester is a much needed mark on your Dorset map.
Situated not far from Weymouth, this bustling town has strong connections with Thomas Hardy. In fact, you can visit both Max Gate and Hardy’s Cottage, within a very short drive from the town centre.
Max Gate is now in the care of the National Trust, and is a beautifully atmospheric Victorian home, which was designed by Thomas Hardy himself. Hardy lived at Max Gate from 1885 until his death in 1928. It was here that he wrote Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Jude The Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge, as well as some of his most famous poetry. Hardy’s Cottage is a little further out of town than Max Gate, and also in the care of National Trust. The beautiful little chocolate box cottage is where Hardy grew up, and it is easy to feel the inspiration that he must have felt surrounded by the woodland and wild flowers.
If literary history is not really your thing, there are plenty of options to choose from within the town itself. Amongst the array of high street shops, there are also plenty of unique and individual shops, as well as many options to tempt your taste buds.
A trip to Dorchester really isn’t complete without sampling a Dorset pasty, and where better than The Celtic Kitchen Pasty Shop. This quaint little patisserie situated off of the main high street not only offers the traditional steak or vegetable pasties, but goes one step further and even offers a range of sweet fillings...if you’ve got room for all that pastry.
Where better to burn off lunch than to have a look around the other historical places that the town has to offer. You are absolutely spoilt for choice with options including the Dinosaur Museum, the Teddy Bear Museum, Terracotta Warrior Museum, Tutankhamum Exhibition, and lastly but by no means leastly, the Dorset County Museum. To save yourself a bit of cash, there is a museum saver ticket available, which will allow you to visit all of these, except the county museum, for one price. You just need to show your saver ticket on entrance to each museum.
If you are short of time, then my top picks would be the Tutankhamen Exhibition and the County Museum.
The Tutankhamen Exhibition offers a fascinating window back to November 1922, when Howard Carter unveiled one of the biggest historical finds of the century. There are many artefacts on display which represent those which were found in the famous Egyptian King’s tomb, as well as newspaper articles, a recreation of the tomb itself, and a replica of the mummy, inviting you to scratch your chin and try and discover ‘whodunnit’ (there is evidence to suggest that the boy king may have been murdered).
The County Museum has a range of rotating exhibits, as well as many ornate permanent pieces, which piece together the history of the town and county. Building works were recently underway and so the new gallery will show off the artefacts in even more splendour.
After all that culture, where better to round off the day than at the old tea house, situated at the top of the high street. It was built in 1865 and you can enjoy the very best in traditional high tea on a three-tier plate, packed with sandwiches, cakes and scones. Probably best that Dorchester is on a little bit of a hill...