Visit Dorset Business Support Hub Dorset - did you know?

Here are just a few of the most intriguing facts about Dorset….

• The 2 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB's) in Dorset account for around half of the county and is home to around three quarters of Britain’s mammal, bird, reptile & butterfly species.

 

• The Jurassic Coast is the only UNESCO natural World Heritage Site in England.

 

• Dorset is one of the most rural counties in the UK – half the population in the county are in the small geographical area of BournemouthPoole and Christchurch. There are more kilometres of footpaths and bridlepaths than road in Dorset and over 4,000 farms.

 

• The 2012 Olympic sailing events were held in Dorset at Weymouth & Portland; it is the first time an Olympic Games has been held against the backdrop of a natural World Heritage Site.

 

• In 1900 a Dorset train driver made history by becoming Britain’s first Olympic athletics champion. Charles Bennett won the 1500 metres event.

 

• England’s oldest post box still in use is in Bishop’s Caundle in Dorset and dates from 1853.

 

• The highest point in Dorset is Lewesdon Hill near Lyme Regis at 279m above sea level; Golden Cap is the highest point of the Dorset and South of England coasts (191 metres above sea level) - it's socalled because of the tip of yellow sandstone at the top of the cliff.

 

• Cerne Abbas village, home of the famous chalk Giant, was voted England’s most desirable village to live in a Country Life magazine survey in 2007. The Giant has featured in a number of promotions including being fitted with what was believed to be the world’s largest condom in 2007!

 

• The figure of George III etched in white chalk at Osmington is the only one in the country of a horse with rider.

 

• King Charles II tried to escape to the Continent by a ship from Charmouth in 1651.

 

• Dorset can lay claim to Britain’s bendiest road – a 1.5km stretch at Cann Common was named in a national survey!

 

• Alfred Wallace, arguably the true founder of the theory of evolution, is buried in Broadstone near Poole – his grave features a 2-metre fossilised tree trunk.

 

• Dorset has over 1,000 Scheduled Sites (monuments of national importance) and 10,000 listed buildings.

 

• Bridport has been awarded Beacon Town status by the Countryside Agency in recognition of its thriving local food sector.

 

• The Dorset Cursus is believed to be Britain's largest neolithic site and runs for 10km through the chalk downs of Cranborne Chase. It is now largely visible only as crop or soil marks, but some of the original earthworks remain along with many associated long barrows.

 

• Over the past 200 years, 1,670 shipwrecks have been recorded off the Dorset coast, of which more than 400 have been located.

 

• The rope that was used to hang criminals throughout the British Empire was made in Bridport, Dorset. The expression “to be stabbed by the Bridport dagger” meant to be hanged! Bridport Gundry company also supplied the goal nets for the 1966 World Cup.

 

• Dorset is one of only 5 counties in England not to have a motorway.

 

• Christchurch was once the world centre for manufacturing fusee chain used in watches.

 

• One of Portland’s early lighthouses became the first anywhere in the world to use a true lens in its lantern in 1789.

 

• Brownsea Island was the location of the 1st Scout camp run by Lord Baden Powell; scout camps are still held there every year. It is also one of the few places left in England where you can see the red squirrel.

 

• The beautiful Chapel at Lulworth Castle was the first freestanding Catholic church to be built in England after the Reformation.

 

• The bouncing bomb developed during World War II was tested in the Fleet Lagoon at Abbotsbury.

 

• The trades union movement took life as a result of the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ protests in the 19th century. The tree where they met and the village green is one of the smallest National Trust properties.

 

• Dorset produces approximately one-third of British watercress. Other local delicacies include Dorset Apple Cake and Dorset Vinny (blue cheese).

 

• Shaftesbury is England’s 2nd highest town at 274m above sea level. Ashmore village is the highest village in Dorset.

 

• The Hovis advert from the 1970s was filmed on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.

 

• The world’s first underwater photograph was taken by William Thompson in 1856 in Weymouth Bay.

 

• The 1st Earl of Shaftesbury is believed to have introduced the cabbage into England in 1539; his statue features a carving of a cabbage in the church of Wimborne St Giles. The statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, London is a monument to the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, the ‘Philanthropic Earl’, and the arrow is aligned to his home.

 

• Portland Stone has been used in many of England’s most prestigious buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, and Buckingham Palace as well as buildings abroad such as the United Nations in New York.

 

• Mary Anning from Lyme Regis was the inspiration behind the tongue twister “She sells sea shells on the seashore”: Born in 1799, she became a highly respected fossil hunter; the Geological Society did not permit women members at the time but they did record her death as a mark of their esteem.

 

• The first ever object to be detected by British Radar was the chapel at St Aldelm’s Head near Swanage; a memorial there marks their achievement.

 

• Milton Abbas was the first planned village of its kind in Britain. Lord Milton re-homed his tenants in order to remove the ‘eyesore’ of the original village from the views from his mansion.