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DORSETDorset Crestounty of Southwest England. First recorded in 940 as Doseteschire. West Saxon settlers who made their home around the Roman city of Dorchester were known as the Dorsaete. Seatan is Old English for settlers.

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Local Links Dorset County Council - Weymouth and Portland Borough Council - Poole Borough Council - Bournemouth Borough Council

owns and cities BournemouthDorchester (administrative headquarters), Shaftesbury, Sherborne; Lyme Regis, Weymouth, Bournemouth, Poole (resorts)

Bournemouth was largely undeveloped until the early 19th century when a local squire, Louis Tregonwell, built a house on the coastal moorland. Pine trees were planted in the Bourne valley and Bournemouth, with its sheltered position, mild climate, and long sandy beach, developed as a popular summer and winter resort.

rea 2,541 sq. km / 981 sq. miles
opulation 374,800 (1994 est)

Chesil Beach

NettlecombeDurdle DoorDorset is bounded on the west by Devon; on the Northwest by Somerset; on the Northeast by Wiltshire; on the east by Hampshire; and on the south by Poole, Bournemouth, and the English Channel. Bridport, Poole, and Weymouth are the chief seaports. Chesil Bank has been augmented with additional breakwaters at Portland Roads to form Portland Harbour.

The coast around Lyme Regis has yielded significant dinosaur remains. Chesil Bank, a shingle bank along the coast 19 km / 11 miles long, connecting Isle of Portland to the mainland; Dorset Downs (chalk)
HIGHEST POINT: Pilsden Pen at 909 feet.

The rivers Stour, Frome and Piddle (which flow into Poole Harbour) flow through the county as does the Axe. Clay beds in the north and west; Canford Heath, the home of some of Britain's rarest breeding birds and reptiles (including the nightjar, Dartford warbler, sand lizard, and smooth snake)

ommerce Industries: Wytch Farm is the largest onshore oilfield in the UK; production at Wareham onshore oilfield started 1991; quarrying (marble from the Isle of Purbeck, and Portland stone, which has been used for buildings all over the world); manufacturing (rope, twine, and net at Bridport); sand and gravel extraction; tourism

Agriculture: dairy farming.

Atlantic 75 LifeboatThe River Stour forms the northern border of Poole, a popular town with tourists where boat building and repair, electro-mechanical engineering, marine engineering, marine electronics, electrical systems and aeronautical instruments figure amongst the industries. Poole is also home to the headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a registered charity which receives no monies from the government and where it's lifeboatmen risk their lives to save others at sea and receive no payment for doing so.

amous people Anthony Ashley Cooper, Thomas Love Peacock, Thomas Hardy, Charles Parry


Dorset Rolling HillsSherbourne Castle which has one of the most graceful fan-vaulted roofs in England.
Chesil Beach, a ten mile stretch of shingle, in places 35 feet high and 150 yards wide which reaches Portland Bill, a stone peninsula from where Sir Christopher Wren gained the Portland Stone used to build St. Paul's Cathedral.

Corfe CastleIsle of Purbeck, a peninsula where china clay and Purbeck `marble´ are quarried, and which includes Corfe Castle and the holiday resort of Swanage. The castle at Corfe is situated on a high ridge, separated from the village by a ravine over which a bridge has been built. It was built in the 11th century on the site of a Saxon stronghold where King Edward the Martyr was murdered in 978.

Chalk StacksTo the East of the Isle of Purbeck at the Foreland is the Devil's Stacks, chalk pillars which stand out into Poole Bay. Old Harry is a synonym for 'the Devil' and the two main rocks are known as Old Harry and the slimmer, Old Harry's Wife. The chalk cliffs were originally joined to the better known 'Needles' on the Isle of Wight and both are being gradually eroded by the waves.

Portland BillIsle of Portland, Limestone peninsula South of Weymouth, joined to the mainland by the bank of shingle, Chesil Bank. The naval base, founded in 1845, closed in 1995. Portland stone, used for St Paul's Cathedral, London, is still quarried here. Portland Harbour is Europe's largest man-made harbour. Portland Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1539-40. The principal villages on the peninsula are Easton and Fortuneswell. Portland Harbour is enclosed by Portland Breakwater, built from Portland stone by convicts in 1849-72. At the southernmost tip of the peninsula, known as Portland Bill, is a lighthouse (1906). With a height of 35 m / 115 ft, the lighthouse was designed to send out a 30-km / 18-miles beam of light. It is now a bird-watching station.
Chesil Bank or Chesil Beach
Anglo-Saxon ceosil, `pebble-bank´ Shingle bank extending along the coast of Dorset, England, White Horsefrom Bridport in the west to the Isle of Portland in the east. Chesil Bank connects Portland with the mainland and encloses a tidal lagoon known as the Fleet. At the Portland end the bank is about 13 m/ 43 ft above high water mark, and 183 m/600 ft broad. The pebbles gradually decrease in size from east to west; they are 2.5- 7.5 cm/1-3 in in diameter at Portland and reach the size of peas at Bridport. At the western end of the Fleet is the Abbotsbury swannery, a wetland reserve for a breeding herd of mute swans. The bank was formed 10,000 years ago at the end of the last glacial period, when the rise in sea level and large waves from the Southwest pushed vast quantities of rock debris and sediments inshore. TSandbankshe lateral gradation of Chesil Bank's pebbles is caused by downdrift attrition (the grinding of pebbles and rocks together) and longshore drift (the zig-zag movement of pebbles along the beach, carried by waves ascending the bank at an angle and then returning in a straight descent). Strong waves from the Southwest throw all material, large and small, to the east, but there is a counter- current moving along the coast working the increasingly smaller material from east to west.
Cranborne Chase; Maiden Castle (prehistoric earthwork); Tank Museum at Royal Armoured Corps Centre, Bovington, where the cottage of the soldier and writer T E Lawrence is a museum;  Wimborne Minster; abbey church of Sherborne

'Trent' LifeboatThe WaverleyPoole is a very popular yachting centre due mainly to it's superb natural harbour. The Town House museum has the largest Bronze Age canoe found in Britain and the HQ of the RNLI is found in the Old Town. Other attractions in Poole are: Holes Bay; Pergins Island; Maritime Museum; Compton Acres themed gardens (including water, rock, heather, Japanese, Roman, Italian); Canford Heath, tumuli field; Sandbanks spit ferry from Poole to Brownsea Island and the Channel Islands

Part of 11th century Abbey still remains. Famous swannery and sub-tropical gardens.

Poole BayBlandford Forum
The most handsome and uniform Georgian red-brick and stone town centre by the Bastard Brothers.

Once famous for its marine rope-making, now an attractive old town. The wide pavements are said to have been for twisting the lengths of hemp.

Historic town where Edmund Ironside defeated Canute's army in 1016. Royal manor of Plantagenet kings and hunting lodge King John's Palace; the moat still survives.

Lyme Regis
The CobbScarily steep and winding road drops you into this predominantly late-Georgian seaside town. Busy in summer, it is advisable to park at the top of the hill and walk down into the town. The walk is well worth it though, the town is delightful and the harbour area, known as 'the Cobb' is picturesque. It was used as the backdrop to the film 'The French Lieutenants Woman'

Gold HillMarket town of Saxon origin, 30 km/19 miles southwest of Salisbury. King Alfred is said to have founded an abbey on the site in 880 (consecrated in 888); King Canute died at Shaftesbury in 1035. There is a museum displaying many buttons for which the town was once famous. One of Shaftesbury's most famous landmarks is Gold Hill, a cobbled very picturesque street, made famous in a 'Hovis' bread advert. Gold Hill Wall is part of the old town wall, built in Saxon times and later buttressed. The earliest part of St Peter's church dates from the 14th century (and an even older building is underneath); other parts date largely from the 15th century. Shaftesbury is mentioned as a borough in the Domesday Book of 1086, being then more important than Exeter or Dorchester. The town received its first charter in 1252, and two others followed (in 1604 and 1664).

Golden CapView from Golden CapBetween Lyme Regis and Bridport, the tiny former smuggling village of Seatown overlooks Lyme Bay and sits in the shadow of Golden Cap which rises 191 metres out from the sea. Named Golden Cap due to the expanse of yellow gorse and golden sandstone which tops the highest cliff in Southern England. The Cap is part of 2,000 acres of National Trust land.

A gem of a Dorset town historically and architecturally, with two castles and an abbey with a superb fan-vaulted roof. Cheap Street (cheap means market) has a row of Tudor tenements.

Poole Harbour LifeboatsSwanage
Medieval fishing village along spectacular cliff-lined coast that became a fashionable seaside resort with the coming of the railway.

Red Arrows Over Poole HarbourWeymouth
Port with a good-looking seafron with late-Georgian terraces along the Esplanade.

Wimborne Minster
Friendly and intimate small town with unusual twin-towered church, many old inns and hotels and excellent local museum.