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Pictures of Shaftesbury

a Historic Market Town in the county of Dorset

About Shaftesbury

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Shaftsbury is Dorset's only hill-top town, with its long history and good views it is particularly attractive to tourists. It started life as a West Saxon fortified town, in the year 880 it was given a nunnery by King Alfred, his daughter, Ethelgiva became the first abbess, and around this grew an Anglo-Saxon town. In 981 Edward the Martyr was buried here. The convent flourished right until the time of the Reformation, when the vast church built with the riches garnered over centuries was destroyed.

In medieval times, Shaftsbury was a place of pilgrimage with many pilgrims visiting the town to worship at the shrine of St. Edward. In the 13th-century Shaftsbury was granted the rights to hold a weekly market, and in the 14th-century this was extended to two markets.

Today, on its high plateau Shaftsbury with its quaint corners and attractive little streets is a magnet for visitors. Its most famous street, Gold Hill slopes steeply down, this is quite possibly the most photographed street in Dorset. At its top is an excellent small museum where visitors can explore the town's unique farming and button manufacturing heritage. There are displays of locally made buttons and many implements used on farms; these include - scythes and Shepherd's crooks. There is a set of Shaftsbury weights and measures from the 17th-century and a fire engine from the mid 18th-century.

St.Peters Church is noted for its crypt and vaulted porch; there is an elaborately carved north parapet, and fine 15th-century stained glass. The excavated remains of the former abbey church lie within a walled garden.

The town's Grosvenor Hotel is a former coaching inn which dates from the 16th-century, although the interior is much altered some of the old features remain, and the exterior radiates all the charm of a by-gone age when it was a busy coaching centre. The arrival of the railways left the town somewhat bereft for a time, but the age of the modern motor car put it once more on the tourist trail.

During the season the town hosts several events including an annual carnival held each October, and the celebrated Gold Hill Fair is in July.

Shaftsbury has splendid views of Blackmoor Vale, and is within easy reach of the Salisbury Plains.

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