Blandford Forum Heritage Trail A unique Georgian town

This heritage trail features many historic sites within the market town of Blandford Forum - the most complete small, Georgian town in England.

Records go back over 1000 years to when the area was known as Blane-ford. The majority of the buildings within the town were built during the Georgian era following a devastating fire in 1731 which destroyed most of the town.

Follow the trail to visit 15 locations and find out more about Blandford's heritage and history.

Trail locations

1. Blandford Bridge - first recorded in 1268, and was reputed to have its own ghost.

2. Blandford Town Museum - Blandford Town Museum tells the story of Blandford Forum and its surrounding villages through displays, exhibitions and local artefacts. 

3. The Market Place - Saturday has been Market Day since 1214 (by order of King John). There is now also a market every Thursday, a monthly Farmers and Makers Market on the fourth Sunday of each month.

4. Blandford Fashion Museum - the late Mrs. Betty Penny MBE founded the Blandford Fashion Museum, located in Lime Tree House, in 1996. Mrs. Penny’s collection of costumes, known locally as the Cavalcade of Costume, form the nucleus of the present collection. However, since then the collection has almost trebled in size and continues to grow thanks to generous donations from the public.

5. North Dorset Trailway - a 14 mile walking, cycling and horse riding route between Sturminster Newton and Spetisbury, via Blandford Forum.

6. Town Hall and Corn Exchange - the buildings, colloquially known as The Corn Exchange, are centrally situated in the Market Place. This complex of buildings comprise the Shambles, the Town Hall room, and Council Chamber, all housed in the original Town Hall building.  The facade of the Town Hall, built in 1734, is a uniquely important and pivotal feature in the centre of the Market Place.

7. Otters on the River Stour - a family of otters can often been seen along the River Stour between Blandford Forum and Blandford St Mary.

8. Railway Arches - originally part of the Dorset Central Railway, the line to Blandford Forum opened on 1 November 1860 at a station at Blandford St Mary, to the south of the River Stour. An extension to the railway required a bridge over the River Stour and a newly relocated Blandford Forum station to the north of the Stour. It eventually became part of British Rail Southern Region and was closed with the ‘Beeching’ cuts in 1966. The track and most of the infrastructure were removed and the site abandoned, however part of the railway arches remain at the side of the River Stour.

9. Unique Georgian architecture - after a devastating fire in 1731 where the majority of the town's buildings were destroyed, an Act of Parliament stated that rebuilding work must be in brick and tile. With assistance from the rest of the country, including £1,000 given by King George II, the town was rebuilt over the next ten years to the designs of local architects John and William Bastard. The redesigned town centre has survived to the present day virtually intact.

10. St. Peter and St. Paul Church - recent restoration work to the tower and cupola included the rehanging of the Apprentice Bell in the cupola, which was used to alert apprentices to lunchtime and the end of the working day. It is possible to organise tours of the church and part way up the tower.

11. Riverside and Meadow Walks - the River Stour winds its way through the town and across two beautiful meadows. The Mortain Bridge and Preetz Bridge connect the main part of the town to Stour Meadows and provides a pleasant and picturesque way to explore the grasslands.

12. Blandford Information Centre - providing a wealth of information about this pretty Georgian town and the surrounding area, the friendly volunteer staff are always happy to help you find what you need.

13. Woodhouse Public Gardens - a quiet area for townspeople to enjoy, was presented to the town by the family of local brewers Hall & Woodhouse and contains a tree mosiac commemorating the Town's Charter and the Queen's Jubilee Tree Sculpture.

14. Milldown Nature Reserve - a hidden gem, on the outskirts of Blandford Forum. Ideal for picnics, exercise, wildlife or simply enjoying the superb views.

15. Royal Signals Museum - telling the story of military communications from semaphore to cyber. The Royal Signals Museum houses the national collection of military communications equipment. It vividly tells the story of military communications and of The Corps via a series of enlightening exhibitions – including interactive exhibitions and displays.

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Places to stay

Choose a relaxing place to stay in the countryside or in town.

Things to do

Beautiful walks and gardens or selection of interesting attractions to keep you entertained.

Food & Drink

Lots of great places to try dine and and enjoy locally brewed Badger Ales or Dorset wines.

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