Newest Review: ... on this site; they were built in 1768. Today it serves various purposes with Jumble sales, craft fairs and town Council meetings being hel... more
Updated..On the 'Piddle'
Villages & Resorts in Dorset in general
Member Name: Sandyd
Villages & Resorts in Dorset in general
Date: 02/05/01, updated on 03/05/01 (155 review reads)
Advantages: Lovely picturesque village
Disadvantages: Very busy in summer
UPDATED.....This village of Wareham is beautifully nestled in the shadow of the Purbeck hills in Dorset. Situated from the east about 10 miles from Poole on the A351 and from the west about 15 miles on the A352 from Dorchester.
It’s a very rural village and is very well known for its old buildings with history that dates back to the Iron Age. It was a port in those times and in 876 the town, as a result of being captured by the Danes had high ‘walls’ built all around it, to defend it.
Most visitors enter Wareham from the East and as you drive onto the North Causeway you cross the River Piddle (hysterical to my daughter when we first moved here 10 years ago and hence the title of this op), you proceed up a slight incline and pass St Martins Church on North Street. This church dates back to Saxon times. It was renovated in 1936 and contains an effigy of Lawrence of Arabia carved by Eric Kennington.
As you travel further on North Street you pass a myriad of shops including Wareham Wines, the off licence and very good video shop (rents all videos on a Wednesday for only £1 each) and the Dorset Gallery which sells framed prints and pictures of Wareham and surrounding countryside.
You continue on and come to the crossroads passing the local Co-op and the Post Office, where the ladies serving are always ready to have a few kind words with you and give a helping hand. A couple of banks (Barclays and Nat West) are now behind you and you have reached The Red Lion public house on the corner of West street.
If you cared to take a little journey up West street you would find a couple of antique shops, a pet shop that sells everything you for animals that you can imagine but specialises in equestrian goods and the Purbeck council offices. If you went further you would come to the Wareham Middle and Purbeck Upper School.
Back at the crossroads you have the town hall on the Northeast corner. This build
ing was built in 1870 and replaces an earlier Town hall, school, jail and butchers shop that previously were on this site; they were built in 1768. Today it serves various purposes with Jumble sales, craft fairs and town Council meetings being held there.
Part of the building is used to house the Wareham Museum with a special section on our local hero Lawrence of Arabia. This is open Easter to mid October (Mon.-Sat 10-4) and guess what, its free (don’t get much for free these days). Its good if it’s raining, (when isn’t it) even with the kids, but be warned it’s very small.
Carrying on now into South Street you come to Lloyds Bank. Very interestingly this bank stands on the site that is thought to have started the great fire of Wareham in 1762 where over 140 buildings were completely destroyed. After that time no thatches were allowed in the town. If you see thatched houses that marks where the boundary of the fire was.
Follow on down a bit further going past Robert’s the chemist where Mrs Roberts, the pharmacist is all too happy to give very friendly advice on minor ailments. (Even to the point of taking my son through the back one day to nurse a not very bad cut) and the best of the three flower shops, Bay tree Florists. Not forgetting to look back on the right to see Bath Travel, Sue Rider Charity shop (of 4 in a small village like ours, They will outnumber residents if were not careful), and the Black Bear Hotel with its life size statue of a black bear standing proudly over the entrance porch. There has been a Bear Hotel here as far back as 1762.
When you continue you will come to South Street Bridge (which follows on to ther small village of Stoborough) and Wareham Quay. The quay, though small has a fair sized car park at 60p per hour (steep compared to the other two car parks in Wareham that charge 30p per hour), has an Italian restaurant, a pub and a hotel that also has a restauran
t underneath that serves the most delicious ‘Dorset Cream Tea’ for about £3.50 per person. The weight just piles on as you sit alongside the River Frome and enjoy the fresh clotted cream ladled above homemade strawberry jam on the soft crumbling scones. Mmmmmmmmmm…….I’ve put on 5lb just thinking about them, a definate must have.
The quay is very popular in the summer months and does get very busy especially in Carnival week, which is usually late July. They have stalls and the Carnival princess presides over the proceedings including a parade where all the local shopkeepers make up their own floats to raise money for charity. In the evenings theres a brilliant singer, Jim Etherington, and you just can’t move for people (good way to get to know the locals when your crushed up against them.) all finished off with a dazzling fireworks display. Now theres a bit of a competition in this with Swanage and Weymouth but Warehams’are always the best (in my unbiased opinion).
We are only a 15 minute drive from Corfe Castle, the ruins of a castle that dates back also to Saxon times. It sits on top of a huge mound of earth built to protect it from invaders. Sheep merrily graze beneath the ruins of the old castle. The whole village of Corfe is worth keeping in mind for another days outing.
We have a dentist (ouch, he’s not my best friend), a Health Centre, a Hospital (though only for Physiotherapy and old people) a total of 4 schools, about 7 pubs (l usually lose count after the 4th or 5th, hic….) 2 supermarkets, Co-op and Somerfield, a fire station, police station and law courts and one sports centre. That’s situated about a mile west of Wareham centre and you are able to Swim, play tennis, football, indoor cricket, squash, karate, have a sauna, trampolining, climbing and a fitness room. Of course l avail myself of all these facilities on a regular basis, l go at least once a year,
l am quite religious about that.
Well, we are surrounded by beautiful countryside and have easy access to bigger towns like Poole (about 20 mins) well known for its large natural harbour, Bournemouth (1/2 an hour), Dorchester (about ½ An hour) and the seaside town of Weymouth (about 35 mins). That’s by car. There is a train station that will take you straight through as far as London one way and Devon the other. There is a regular bus service to Poole, Bournemouth and Weymouth. Not that l often frequent public transport as l live about 2 miles outside the town and l’m not on a bus route whatsoever, so its shank’s pony or the car for me (guess which wins most)!
Wareham is twinned with Conches in France and in the summer there is sometimes a French street market from there offering delicious tempting specialities like real French bread, pastries and pates.
We have several walks, a leaflet is available from the tourist information bureau in South Street, just opposite the Quay. The leaflet will give you the exact path to follow and point out any particular points of interest. More details are available at:
Purbeck Information & Heritage Centre
Holy Trinity Church
Tel 01929 552740
There are also several campsites in and around the village. They have many caravans to rent and facilities for tents and your own mobile homes on quite a reasonable rate (about £10 per night).
Wareham is a very historical town and when you take a second to look up at the buildings that you pass so quickly when you travel through in your car as we do you are forced to wonder what the lives of the old inhabitants were like. It may be gory but a trip to one of the cemeteries gives a fascinating glimpse, especially the one at the main church of the Lady St Mary. This church boasts a 18th Century tower and a Tudor tower and is on the site of an 8th centur
y Minster church, so you can imagine some of the gravestones are very, very old.
We are very lucky to live in a lovely place like Wareham, the only problem is as it’s so lovely we get tourists by the thousand in the summer. So if you think of visiting us, come early spring when its not so packed and you can easily park. It’s far nicer to see this memorable town with all its history in less crowded surroundings.