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Facts about Wiltshire

 

 

Rather interesting Salisbury facts

Did you know that at 404 feet the spire at Salisbury Cathedral is the tallest spire in Britain and its tallest masonry structure. It was at one time the tallest spire in all Europe

Did you know that inside Salisbury Cathedral is the oldest working clock in Britain which dates back to 1386

Salisbury is a charming town with many attractive properties including half-timbered buildings. The most famous building in the town has to be Salisbury Cathedral whose spires dominates the city's skyline at over 120 meters and is said to be Britain 's tallest spire. Within the Chapter House of the Cathedral is an original Magna Carta which has been preserved to the highest standard of the four Magna Cartas in existence and therefore is a major attraction for people visiting Salisbury and its Cathedral. Construction of the Cathedral started in 1220 and was completed by 1258 with the spire and Chapter being later additions. It has spectacular architecture to admire and countless numbers of beautiful stained windows.

There are also some fantastic styles of architecture in The Close surrounding the Cathedral some of which were the work of Sir Christopher Wren. One of the oldest buildings is the 13 th century Medieval Hall.

The World Heritage site of Stonehenge is situated on Salisbury Plain and the town's museum has a fantastic exhibition dedicated to Stonehenge such as artefacts and an interesting collection of historic drawings of the ancient stones.

Salisbury Racecourse is a Flat Racecourse with Race Days held throughout the year including Ladies Race Evenings and Family Fun Days.

 

Amesbury

The market town of Amesbury is situated two miles from Stonehenge . This attractive town has a good selection of 18 th and 19 th century buildings.

Stonehenge is a World Heritage site looked after by English Heritage. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, many travelling from oversees to study this remarkable feat of architecture. The reason for the building of this ancient circle of stones is not really known, many theories are in existence i.e. was it an astronomical calendar. It is certainly awe inspiring to think that it was created all those years ago using the most basic of tools. There are also many ancient burial mounds and prehistoric moments to see. Many flock to Stonehenge for the Summer and Winter Solstice.

The National Trust have some interesting walks in the area which you can download the routes from their website and there is an Information Centre in Amesbury where you can pick up further information about the area.

 

Avebury

Although not as well known as Stonehenge, the pretty village of Avebury also has a stone circle which is believed to be the largest in the world. Some stones are said to date back as far as between 2500 and 3000 BC. It is an amazing feat as to how the circle was constructed and how the stones were transported. William Stukeley's book called Abury A Temple of the British Druids discusses the theories behind the building of the stone circle.

Avebury Manor is an attractive manor house dating back to the early 16 th century. The house is privately owned but some parts of the house and the gardens are open to the public.

The Alexander Keiller Museum is situated at Avebury Manor and has some interesting information with regards to the monuments together with artefacts found in the area. Alexander Keiller was an archaeologist who carried out excavations in the area in the 1930's.

 

Bradford on Avon

The market town of Bradford-on-Avon is situated just inside the Cotswolds, 8 miles from Bath . As its name suggests it is situated on the River Avon. Much of the town's prosperity was due to the textile industry and the river was used to power the wool mills.

A major feature of the town centre is its bridge which still has two of the original arches remaining which date back to the 13 th century. There are some beautiful Cotswold stone cottages in the town and the old cloth mills still remain. The charming narrow streets and alleyways have a host of pubs, restaurants and guesthouses together with a good selection of shops.

There are some interesting buildings in the area with notable architectural features including the listed Tithe Barn at Barton Manor which is believed to have been built around the 14 th century. The construction date of the Saxon Church of St Lawrence is also unknown but is believed to range from the 8 th to the 11 th century.

 

Chippenham

The market town of Chippenham is situated between Swindon and Bath with good access links to the M4. The town holds a weekly market every Friday & Saturday and has many attractive properties including half-timbered buildings and old coaching inns.

Chippenham had a successful textile industry until its decline in the 19 th century and had many mills on the riverside. The success of cloth making brought prosperity to the town resulting in many fine buildings being constructed, many of which still exist today.

The Tourist Information Centre situated in Yelde Hall is a beautiful 15 th Century building with an interesting history of uses ranging from initially being a municipal building to being the town's museum and currently being used as the Tourist Information Centre since 2003. Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre outgrew Yelde Hall and is now located in the Market Place in an attractive Grade II listed 18 th century building. There are informative displays which re-tell the town's history dating back to prehistoric times.

 

Swindon

Swindon has a fantastic selection of high street shops within the Brunel Centre and on their pedestrianised streets such as Canal Street . The alleys and courtyards of the Old Town offer a charming collection of specialist shops together with eateries and just outside the town centre is the Swindon Designer Outlet managed by McArthur Glen which is located in the former Great Western Railway works where you are sure to pick up a bargain .

Swindon changed dramatically in 1840 from the arrival of The Great Western Railway. The Museum for the Great Western Railway is located at the site of the old railway works where you can learn about the area's connections with Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Western Railway .

Famous people who originated from Swindon include the glamorous Diana Dors, Billie Piper and Melinda Messenger.

 

Cricklade

Situated between Swindon and Cirencester, Cricklade is known as the first town on the Thames' as the Romans built a road to cross the Thames which is now known as Ermine Street. The town has an interesting history including evidence of Anglo Saxons in the town and its own coins known as Cricklade Coins were produced in the 10 th and 11 th century. The town's Museum is on Calcutt Street in a former church.

The tall Jubilee Clock on the High Street was put up in 1898 in commemoration of Queen Victoria 's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

There is plenty to do in the beautiful countryside surrounding the town including the Thames Path National Trail, the Cotswold Water Park for watersports enthusiasts or the North Meadow National Nature Reserve.

 

Devizes

The charming market town of Devizes has both an indoor market in the Shambles and an outdoor market held on Thursdays together with a good selection of individual shops.

The towns Visitor Centre on Market Place gives a good overview of the town's history with interesting displays and they can also provide you with details of the Medieval Town Trail which you can follow to view the historic landmarks of the town such as the site of a Norman Castle and both the North and South side gates.

Wadworth Brewery was founded in 1875 in Devizes. The visitor centre offers an interesting insight into how their beers have been produced over the years. Working dray horses are a regular treat as they stroll through the town and you can also visit the horses at their stables.

The Caen Hill locks at Devizes are a collection of 29 locks of which 16 are placed in a straight line making boat trips through this part of the Kennet and Avon canal very challenging!

 

Castle Combe

Situated in the southern part of the Cotswolds, Castle Combe is a picture perfect village. The village is beautifully preserved as many of the Cotswold stone cottages date back to the 15 th century and are therefore listed which thankfully will retain their charm for future generations. Unfortunately there is very little remaining of the village's Castle. The Village Museum has many artefacts that have been found in the area and the helpful and informative staff will be happy to give an overview of the area's history.

It is easy to see why the village has earned the name of Prettiest Village in England and it has been the location for films such as Stardust and Wolf Man as well as Doctor Doolittle in the 1960's.

For thrill seekers then Castle Combe Racing Circuit offers the ultimate driving experience where you can have the chance to feel the speed of being driven by a professional driver or even drive the course yourself.

 

Marlborough

Situated in North Wiltshire, Marlborough is a busy market town with a market on its wide High Street held on Wednesdays and Saturdays as well as a twice monthly Farmers Market. In addition to the markets the town has a fantastic selection of high street shops and a collection of antique shops and art galleries making this a destination shopping experience. When your shopping is complete then there is plenty of choice on where to eat as well!

Historically the town was given its first charter in 1204 giving it Market town status. During the Civil War The Battle of Marlborough in 1642 left its legacy of damage on the town's architecture, some of which can still be seen particularly on St Marys Church. The town has some fantastic buildings to admire such as the 17 th century Merchants House and reputably Merlin's burial place is in Marlborough College 's grounds .

 

Trowbridge

Trowbridge is a bustling town with two shopping centres, namely Castle Place and The Shires as well as an indoor market.

Trowbridge had a thriving wool industry up until the closing of the last mill in 1982. Trowbridge Museum is now situated in one of the mills, Home Mills which gives an interesting insight into the town's history. Ushers Brewery were located in the town from 1824 until its closure in 2000 when the equipment was bought by a company in North Korea and the site has now been redeveloped. The Town Trail and Industrial Trail walking tours are very interesting and point out buildings such as the 18 th and 19 th century townhouses owned by the clothiers. Leaflets of the trails can be picked up from the Museum or the Tourist Information Centre.

Sir Isaac Pitman was born in Trowbridge in 1813 and of course went on to become well known due to the creation of his famous shorthand system. The town has a plaque to commemorate him and there is even a pub in the town named after him.

 

Warminster

Warminster is a small and charming town with many attractive 17 th and 18 th century buildings with a good selection of shops.

In the 1960's Warminster hit the headlines with regards to UFO's with several unexplained sightings and strange noises in the area of which many books have been written and the phenomenon still remains unexplained!

Just outside Warminster is Longleat House and Safari Park. The Safari Park is famed as being the first safari park to open outside Africa and now is home to every imaginable animal. The house is a stunning Elizabethan stately home situated within 900 acres which was landscaped by Capability Brown.


Westbury

Westbury is best known for the Westbury White Horse, a chalk carving on Westbury Hill. The carving is said to be over three hundred years old having been referenced by Reverend Wise in 1742. Over the years the shape of the carving has been tweaked and in the 1950's it was decided to concrete it and then paint white to reduce maintenance. This huge landmark is a towering 108 ft high and 182 ft long.

The hills in the area make this a popular walking destination as well as a great spot for air sporting enthusiasts such as hang-gliding.

 

Melksham

The town has many attractive buildings particularly on Canon Square and Church Walk such as the 17 th century Melksham House.

Like many of the towns on the River Avon, Melksham had a thriving cloth industry until the 1800's and had several mills throughout the town. One of the main employers in Melksham today is a tyre company called Cooper Avon Tyres who have been in the town since 1890. In the early 1800's a Spa was opened in the town but unfortunately did not gain the success of the nearby spa town of Bath and unfortunately closed a few years later.

The Melksham Tourist Information Centre is situated on Church Street and will offer advice on what the town and surrounding area has to offer.

 

Wilton

Wilton is a charming town with a weekly market and a good selection of individual shops, pubs and restaurants. There are many attractions within walking distance of the town such as St Mary's Ruin and the Italianate Church with its stunning architecture and splendid stained glass windows.

Wilton House sits within 21 acres of landscaped grounds and is owned by the Earl and Countess of Pembroke whose family have lived in the house for over 460 years. The house has undergone extensive restoration over the years and together with the beautifully manicured gardens make this a memorable day out.

Nearby is Wilton Shopping Village which has factory outlet stores where you are sure to pick up a bargain. Also nearby is the well known Wilton Carpets Factory which offers a Factory Tour and re-tells the history of carpet making in the area. Wilton has been associated with carpet making since the early 18 th century following on from its cloth industry as were many of its neighboring towns.

 

Wotton Bassett

In March 2011 Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Wootton Basset would be given the title of Royal' to recognise its contribution to honour the soldiers killed in war. The corteges have travelled through the High Street since 2007 and the town has shown great dignity, compassion and respect as they lined the streets to honour the fallen soldiers. It is a huge honour to be bestowed upon the town as the only other Royal towns are Leamington Spa in 1838 and Tunbridge Wells in 1909.

 

Tisbury

Tisbury has been referred to as either a town or a village! but either way its situation within the Nadder Valley make this a beautiful area to visit.

Just outside of Tisbury to the south west is the 14 th century Wardour Castle which suffered extensive damage during the Civil War. The ruins are now known as Old Wardour Castle and are looked after by English Heritage who allow the public to share in this magnificent piece of Wiltshire's history.

 

Famous Wiltshire people


Sir Christopher Wren
Desmond Morris
Douglas Hurd
Edmund Ludlow
Henry Shrapnel
James Blunt
Melinda Messenger
Michael Crawford
Philip Massinger
Sir Isaac Pitman
Thomas Hancock

Billie Piper

Will Carling

 

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