Dorchester in the county of Dorset, is a fascinating old town and has plenty to offer the visitor, the market town has many places of interest. Dorset is one of Englandís smallest counties and has a diverse landscape. Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton some 3 miles from Dorchester in 1840 and attended the local school before transferring to a school in Dorchester. He left Dorchester in 1862 and returned in 1867.
In 1885 Hardy and his wife Emma moved into Max Gate in Dorchester the property Hardy himself designed. He lived there until his death in 1928 the house contains a wealth of memorabilia and some of his furniture.
You may like to visit Higher Bockhampton to see Hardys Cottage, where he was born and wrote his early novels. At the western end of the main street you will see the Bronze Statue of Thomas Hardy, it was erected in 1931. Dorchester appears in Thomas Hardys novels as Casterbridge.
The main shopping area is on South Street where you can spend some time looking around the shops, a weekly market is held on a Wednesday. Dorchesterís origins go back to the Romans and excavations here led to the discovery of a Roman Villa, with a mosaic floor in good condition.
If you would like to find out more about the history of the town you should visit the Dorset County Museum on High West Street which has fine displays of local history. There is also a re-creation of Thomas Hardyís study, which may be of interest to some of you.
Another museum of interest is the Dorset Military Museum; the impressive Keep built in 1879 houses the museum. The fascinating Tutankhamun: The Exhibition, is well worth visiting also the Teddy Bear House in Antelope Walk where you will see life-size teddy bears occupying some of the rooms Ė children will really enjoy the exhibitions, and perhaps the parents to!
Just outside the town is Maiden Castle, the largest Iron Age Hillfort in Britain and one of southern Englandís finest prehistoric sites covering over 100 acres. You can view the main finds from the site which are on display at the Dorset County Museum.
The Tourist Office is located in Antelope Walk, if you require more details on attractions mentioned or other visitor attractions in and around the area help and information on accommodation etc they will be able to help you. The web site address is www.westdorset.com
If you are planning a holiday break in Dorset you may consider stopping at Dorchester before exploring Central and Eastern Dorset.