Marlborough boasts the second-widest High Street in Britain and was once under control of William the Conqueror. In 1204 King John granted Charter to the Borough which permitted an annual eight-day fair, commencing on 14 August, the vigil of the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. He also established that weekly markets may be held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. These continue to this day.
Every summer the town holds a jazz festival with local pubs, clubs, hotels and various other venues playing host to live jazz music over the course of a weekend.
Wander through the elegant state rooms of Lydiard House, containing original family furnishings, portraits and ornate plasterwork and see how the ornamental 18th century walled garden has been restored to its former glory.
Enjoy the natural beauty of the tranquil lake, rolling lawns and woodlands before heading for some fun in the playground, next to the cafe. Lydiard Country Park is open every day from 7.30am to dusk (except Christmas Day). There are 260 acres of historic landscape with lawns, woodlands, lakes and pasture. Wide, accessible paths criss-cross the site making it a great location for a walk, run, jog or bike ride. Dogs are welcome in the park, though not allowed in the children’s play area, playing fields, Lydiard House and Walled Garden (except guide dogs), the cafe and indoor areas of the Tea Rooms.
The UK’s no. 1 Safari Park first opened its gates to the public in April 1966.
Today it is difficult to imagine the furore aroused when Longleat’s plans for an initial 100-acre lion reserve were made public. There were dire warnings of big cats running amok in the Wiltshire countryside, local clergymen were up in arms, and there were even questions asked in the Houses of Parliament.
In spite of these fears, the ground-breaking concept of the drive through safari park proved a hugely popular draw for visitors. Over forty years on, Longleat Safari Park remains one of the country’s leading wildlife attractions.
Set within 900 acres of Capability Brown landscaped grounds, Longleat House is widely regarded as one of the best examples of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain and one of the grandest stately homes open to the public.
Built by Sir John Thynne from 1568 and visited by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574, Longleat House is the home of the 7th Marquess of Bath. It was the first stately home to open to the public on a fully commercial basis back on 1st April 1949.
A visit to Salisbury Cathedral is highly recommended. Known as ‘the city in the countryside’, Salisbury is surrounded by a landscape so quintessentially English it’s almost too good to be true. If you pause on the edge of the water-meadows to take in the awesome sight of the Cathedral rising up from these lush green fields, it’s easy to understand why this was described as ‘Britain’s Best View’ by readers of Country Life magazine.
The spectacular Salisbury Cathedral is unique in being built almost entirely in one architectural style, Early English Gothic and has Britain’s tallest spire (123m/404ft) plus numerous famous literary connections. Enjoy a guided tour of the Salisbury Cathedral floor or book a tower tour and climb 332 steps to the base of the spire to enjoy magnificent views across Salisbury’s famous water meadows.
Alternatively, explore by yourself and discover the world’s finest original Magna Carta, Europe’s oldest working clock and over 750 years of history. All this and it’s only an hours drive from Dorwyn Manor.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Radiocarbon dating done in 2008 suggested that the first stones were erected between 2400 and 2200 BC.
Stonehenge evolved in several construction phases spanning at least 1,500 years. There is evidence of large-scale construction on and around the monument that perhaps extends the landscape’s time frame to 6,500 years.
Scientists have just unveiled the results of a four-year survey of the landscape around Stonehenge. Using non-invasive techniques like ground-penetrating radar, the researchers detected signs of at least 17 previously unknown Neolithic shrines in the vicinity. Scholars still aren’t sure why Stonehenge was built, as the monument’s Neolithic creators left behind no written records. But the ruins, which align with the sun during the solstices, stand as an impressive feat of prehistoric engineering. The biggest stones at the site, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet tall and weigh 25 tons; they are believed to have been dragged from Marlborough Downs, 20 miles to the north.
Stonehenge is approximately a 1 hour drive south from Dorwyn Manor.
Lacock abbey was founded by The Countess of Salisbury in the reign of King Henry III.
Her husband was one of the Barons who led the revolt against King John. His participation in the revolt explains how Lacock came to possess one of the three original copies of the Magna Carta.
Another famous resident of Lacock was William Fox Talbot in 1835. He was one of the pioneers of photography, and discovered how to make prints from negatives. Visitors to Lacock are often shown the Oriel window from which he took his first successful photograph.
The Village has many stunning architectural designs from early timber framework to the georgian pediment. The tithe barn, 14th century doorways and several old cottages make it a very interesting place to explore. Lacock was donated to the National Trust in 1944 by Matilda Talbot and has recently been used to film sequences from Downton Abbey.
Lacock Village and Abbey is situated less than 15 miles (just over 30 mins drive) from Dorwyn Manor.
According to British Archeology magazine, “Great sites rarely come much greater than Silbury Hill – at least in terms of scale. This giant Neolithic tumulus near Avebury, the largest man-made prehistoric mound in Europe, has been a source of observation, speculation and wishful thinking for hundreds if not thousands of years.”
Mysterious Silbury Hill compares in height and volume to the roughly contemporary Egyptian pyramids. Probably completed in around 2400 BC, it apparently contains no burial. Though clearly important in itself, its purpose and significance remain unknown. There is no access to the hill itself.
Silbury Hill is part of the Avebury World Heritage Site, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Millionaire archaeologist Alexander Keiller excavated here in the 1930s, and there is a museum bearing his name.
Arranged in two parts, the Alexander Keiller Museum is divided into the Stables, displaying archaeological treasures from across the World Heritage Site, and the Barn, a 17th-century threshing barn housing interactive displays and children’s activities that reveal the story of this ancient landscape.
At Avebury, the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle partially encompasses a pretty village. Millionaire archaeologist Alexander Keiller excavated here in the 1930s, and there is a museum bearing his name. Avebury rivals – some would say exceeds – Stonehenge as the largest, most impressive and complex prehistoric site in Britain.
The site’s present appearance owes much to the marmalade heir Alexander Keiller, who re-erected many stones during the 1930s, and whose archaeological collections are displayed in the nearby museum. Many stones had been broken or buried in medieval and later times, one crushing its destroyer as it fell.
Stonehenge and Avebury were inscribed together on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1986. The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site was one of the UK’s very first World Heritage Sites.