Wessex Has It All - Come & Get It
WESSEX TOURIST BOARD -THE INDEX PAGE
Over 380 million views
The Wessaxens came here for a visit 1514 years ago and liked it so much they have stayed.
This picture of Cerdic was drawn by Juliet Davey & is her copywrite
Hail My Subjects and My Visitors
First King of
Wessex. The Royal Family of England descends
from me. I landed in Briton in 497AD and my
Kingdom became the most
powerful in the land - it was called Wessex.
(West Saxons) and Chard
was my first capital. Wessex became England
with the amalgamation of
Mercia & Northumbria. After
the Norman Conquest Wessex was divided up into
counties: Berkshire, Devon, Dorset,
Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire. My site
covers the attractions
& Events in those eight Counties plus the
four GREATER WESSEX
counties of Cornwall, Kent, Surrey &
Sussex. Visit the Attractions
in the ancient kingdom of Wessex .Tarry a
while. Stay in our hotels,
,caravans or campsites We thank the many
hotels, Guest Houses, Caravan
camping sites, internet cafes, visitor
offices,magazines, newspapers and County shows
for freely advertising
Our sister site
Mercia Tourist Board) will be
covering a further 12 counties. Those counties now
online are listed
SO NOW WELCOME TO THE LANDS OF THE WESSAXENS, SOUTH SAXONS and ANGLES
captured the whole of England and
amalgamated Mercia & Northumbria. It is my
ambition to eventually
cover all the attractions of England. So far we
have covered Wessex
under the website www.wessextouristboard.org.uk
(Formerly www.chardnet.co.uk) and now
started to cover
Mercia under www.merciatouristboard.org.uk.
Click on to the county you require on the table
to the left.So far 20
counties + London have been prepared- slowly the
rest will follow.
Further we have a multitude of reference pages which were created some time ago and are now under reconstruction. So on here you will find dedicated pages to specialist activities in Wessex & Mercia. These include a list of Agricultural ,Horse Shows etc, The Wessex Hall of Fame, Michelin starred restaurants in Wessex,Seaside Resorts, Theatres in Wessex & the UK, List of Films made in Wessex, Wessex Names, Golf Clubs, Football Clubs, Rugby Clubs, Ice Skating and Racetracks . Campers & Caravanners have their own dedicated section too. I have even got my own page for readers letters and news snippets, mainly from my ancient capital Chard. There is also a full A-Z list of shops services in Chard, Crewkerne & Ilminster. All about Chard & The History of Wessex are also included. A special section on the County Town TAUNTON is also online
each one of those Counties on-line you will be
able to click through to
on the map of Britain to the left. If you think
there is anything that
be added do contact me on
Contact Us or call up on0207 183
4978or fax on 0845
you listen to Wessex FM, travel on Wessex
Trains and use Wessex
Water, you may be surprised to learn that
Wessex no longer exists.
Established in the 6th century, the tribal
kingdom of Wessex changed
shape repeatedly during its 300-year life. At
its greatest, it
stretched from Cornwall to Kent, with
Winchester at its heart and
Alfred as its king. The name Wessex is a
shortened version of "West
Saxony", although the region's early
inhabitants included Jutes and
Celts as well as Saxons.
Since its demise in the 9th century, there have been several attempts to resurrect the region, most famously by Thomas Hardy in the 19th century, who used Wessex as the setting for his novels. (Wessex was also the name Hardy gave to his bad-tempered dog.) Today, organisations bearing the name Wessex serve counties as far-ranging as Devon, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Herefordshire and Hampshire. Some base their definition on archaeological and historical sources, some on where the Wessex dialect was spoken, and some on Thomas Hardy's map, while others have simply defined Wessex to suit themselves. In the spirit of "invent your own Wessex" this article focuses on the (arguably) core counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
HOME TO EDWARD AND SOPHIE?
The Earl and Countess of Wessex actually live in Bagshot in Surrey. Prince Edward is the third Earl of Wessex, following on from Godwin, to whom King Canute first gave the title, and his son Harold Godwinson, later Harold II of England. When the Normans invaded in 1066 they abolished local earldoms, and the office of Earl of Wessex was abandoned for 1,000 years until Prince Edward adopted it on his marriage to Sophie Rhys-Jones. However, as the historian David Starkey points out, "The title itself is a total fiction. There is nowhere called Wessex."
ISN'T IT WORZEL GUMMIDGE COUNTRY?
The traditional view of Wessex is that of a region full of yokels; people who call you "my lover", and decline the verb to be "I be, you be, he be, we be, you be, they be" while conversing in a West Country burr about "them apples" and sipping a pint of scrumpy. This is, of course, far from the whole story, and today's inhabitants are more likely to be commuters than dairymaids. The region's landscape varies from rolling hills and hedgerows to trout streams and healing waters; from milk-and-honey valleys to chalk downland and bleak plains; from sacred sites to smugglers' coves, and from seaside resorts to suburban sprawl. Incidentally, Scatterbrook Farm in the TV series of Worzel Gummidge, was actually Pucknell Farm in the Test Valley in Hampshire (which may or may not be in Wessex).
WHAT ABOUT THOMAS HARDY COUNTRY?
The first guide to Thomas Hardy country was published in 1904, starting a trend in tracking down the sites featured in Hardy's novels. This pursuit is complicated by the fact that many of the places the author mentions have been condensed or expanded, while buildings have been transposed or amalgamated. If you want to follow the Hardy trail, take Fred Pitfield's Hardy's Wessex Locations as your guide (Dorset Publishing Company, pounds 9.95).
Perhaps the most-visited Hardy site is his own thatched cottage in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset (01305 262366, open 1 April-4 November, daily except Friday and Saturday, 11am-5pm; pounds 2.60 per person). It was built by his great-grandfather in 1800. Sitting in the window- seat here, Hardy wrote Under The Greenwood Tree and Far From The Madding Crowd. Nature trails through neighbouring Thorncombe woods, a wildlife sanctuary, are especially enchanting during the bluebell season, and from here you can also walk to Stinsford Church where Hardy's heart is buried. The rest of his body is interred in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
You can stay in cottages converted from barns built by Hardy's father at Greenwood Grange, a short distance from Hardy's Cottage (0870 585 1111; www.english-country-cottages.co.uk). The cottages have a communal indoor swimming pool, sauna and solarium. Each cottage sleeps four; and costs pounds 666 for a week in August.
ANY OTHER LITERARY CONNECTIONS?
Loads. On the Cobb (an artificial breakwater) in the historic Dorset seaside town of Lyme Regis, John Fowles' French Lieutenant's Woman stood hooded and windswept, and Louisa Musgrove jumped and fell in Jane Austen's Persuasion. After Charmouth, Lyme also boasts one of the best fossiling beaches on the south coast, and it was here that 11-year-old Mary Anning astonished the scientific community in the early 19th century by finding the skeleton of an icthyosaurus. A two- bedroom thatched cottage on the sea-front can be rented from Lyme Bay Holidays (01297 443363; www.lymebayholidays.co.uk) for pounds 525 per week in August or pounds 400 per week in September.
J Meade Faulkner was a contemporary
Hardy's and author of
the much-loved smuggling story, Moonfleet.
The Fleet is a lagoon
separating Chesil Beach, an 18-mile ridge of
shingle stretching from
the Isle of Portland to Bridport, from the
mainland. On the far side of
the Fleet many vessels foundered, causing
the lee shore to be known as
"Deadman's Bay", or in John Meade Faulkner's
story, "Moonfleet Bay".
Fleet Old Church is where John Trenchard is
supposed to have been
trapped in Blackbeard's vault. Moonfleet
Manor (01305 786948; www.moonfleetmanor.com)
The Fleet is situated at the end of a
two-mile winding lane. It has a pleasantly
ramshackle, old- colonial
feel and superb sea views over to Portland
Bill. A single room for one
night starts from pounds 80.
Neolithic man certainly made his mark
concentration of prehistoric monuments in
Britain occurs in Wiltshire,
which is home to burial mounds, hill forts
and henge monuments. The
most famous is Stonehenge (open 1 June-31
August, 9am- 7pm; 1
September-15 October from 9.30am-6pm; pounds
4 per adult, pounds 2 per
child). The site is about to get a pounds
57m revamp designed to
improve public access to the stones, to take
away traffic and to create
a visitor centre. Not far away is Avebury,
the largest of the 900 or so
surviving stone circles in Britain. Fourteen
times larger than
Stonehenge, the Avebury circle is also more
than 500 years older.
Access to the Avebury stones is free and
unrestricted. Also in the
vicinity are West Kennet Long Barrow, one of
the longest Neolithic
burial chambers in Britain; Silbury Hill,
the largest artificial mound
in Europe dating back to around 2700bc; and
Windmill Hill, the site of
the earliest Neolithic farming culture in
You can explore Wiltshire's Neolithic
world on a new
walking tour run by Foot Trails (01747
trail crosses the open countryside of the
Vale of Pewsey and the
northern tip of Salisbury Plain, taking in
at Windmill Hill, Avebury,
Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and
Stonehenge. The cost is
pounds 375 per person with a single person
supplement of pounds 15 per
night. Accommodation is at the two- star
Lamb Inn, an old country hotel
in the idyllic Wiltshire village of Hindon.
You will walk about eight
miles each day at a relaxed pace. Foot
Trails also offers one- day
six-mile guided walks around Stonehenge. The
price of pounds 19.95 per
person includes a picnic lunch.
I WANT TO STAY ON THE BEATEN TRACK
Two of the best-loved walks that pass through Wessex are the Macmillan Way and the Monarch's Way. The 290-mile Macmillan Way actually starts in Lincolnshire, but passes through Wiltshire and ends on the Dorset coast at Abbotsbury. It was originally devised as a charity walk to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer Relief and is now fully waymarked. The walk has its own website at www.macmillanway.org.
The Monarch's Way follows the flight of Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It is more than 600 miles long in its entirety, but the section within Wessex runs from Bristol via Wells to Yeovil in Somerset, through Charmouth and Bridport in Dorset, then to Wincanton in Somerset and just north of Salisbury in Wiltshire before passing on into Hampshire and Sussex. The Monarch's Way website is at www.monarchsway.50megs.com.
Wycheway Country Walks (01886 833828; www.wychewaycountrywalks.co.uk) offers a series of guided walking holidays following the Monarch's Way. The price for a one-week guided walk is pounds 395 per person, including accommodation in small hotels, guesthouses or farmhouses, breakfast and packed lunch. The average daily walking distance is 10 miles.
WHAT ABOUT THE SEASIDE?
Wessex has two patches of coastline; in the west the Severn Estuary stretches from Avonmouth in the north to Porlock in the south, while the south Dorset coast extends from Lyme Regis in the west to Christchurch in the east. The most popular seaside resorts include Weymouth and Bournemouth in Dorset and Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. Weymouth became a fashionable seaside resort after King George III went to bathe there every summer. If modern royals feel over-exposed, they may like to remember that every time the king bathed, crowds cheered and played the national anthem.
As Weymouth became increasingly
as a more exclusive alternative. Portrayed
as Sandbourne in Tess Of The
d'Urbervilles, Bournemouth has not changed
much since Hardy described
it as a "fashionable watering place... with
its piers, its groves of
pines, its promenades and its covered
gardens", and still likes to
think of itself as a cut above its rivals,
Blackpool and Brighton. More
fun on piers is to be had at
Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. Weston is
also a good base from which to explore
Wookey Hole Caves, Cheddar Caves
and Gorge, Longleat, Bath and Bristol.
WHERE'S THE BEST PORT IN A STORM?
The thousand-year-old port of Bristol. This summer from 22 August- 22 September you can visit the "Dance Live! Bristol" festival. Spanning venues across the city, the festival features World Dance Day (Lloyds TSB Amphitheatre, 25 August) and "Dance Bites" introducing the Autumn Fashion Shows with Jeff Banks (the Mall at Cribbs Causeway, 19-21 September), among other events. For more information go to www.visitbristol.co.uk.
For gentler entertainment, attend a series of free Friday lunchtime and early evening jazz performances in Queen Square throughout August; take a boat trip from Bristol Industrial Museum around the Floating Harbour on the newly-restored John King, a 1935 motor tug; or explore Bristol's Georgian village, Clifton, on a guided walk any Saturday or Sunday in August at 12pm, 1pm or 2pm.
A VILLAGE AFFAIR
POETIC, PICTURESQUE AND PERFECT FOR TV
John Betjeman was a regular visitor to Dorset and loved the sounds of the names of the villages. His poem "Dorset" begins "Rime Intrinsica, Fontmell Magna, Sturminster Newton and Melbury Bubb..." Other Wessex towns and villages worth a visit include:
Lacock in Wiltshire. This National Trust village dates from the 13th century. Its lime-washed, half-timbered and stone houses made it the ideal setting for Meryton in the most recent BBC dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice. The medieval Lacock Abbey also featured in the film of Harry Potter (01249 730501; www.nationaltrust.org.uk). The museum, cloisters & garden are open 16 March -3 November daily, 11am- 5.30pm; closed Good Friday; the abbey is open 30 March-3 November, daily 1pm-5.30pm (closed Tuesdays and Good Friday). Entrance to all costs pounds 6.20 per adult, pounds 3.40 per child or pounds 16.80 for a family ticket.
In contrast, Poundbury, an extension of Dorchester, has been used as a model for urban development. This highly modern village has been designed, with input from the Prince of Wales, to be energy efficient, to create a sense of community, and so that people with different incomes live next door to one another.
Midsomer Norton in Somerset is ITV's murder capital of the country, while Golden Hill in Shaftesbury is featured in the famous Hovis advert, accompanied by Dvorak's "New World Symphony" and out- of-place Yorkshire accents.
The picturesque village of Corfe on
the Isle of
Purbeck in Dorset
offers easy access to sandy beaches at
Studland, Swanage and Sandbanks,
the steam Swanage Railway, riding, golf and
great walks. The ruin of
Corfe Castle (01929 481294; www.nationaltrust.org.uk)
the village on a conical hill in a gap in
the Purbeck ridge is visible
for miles around (open daily all year,
except 25, 26 December and one
day in mid-March; April to October 10am-6pm;
pounds 4.30 per adult,
pounds 2.15 per child, pounds 10.80 per
family - two adults and three
If you are looking for a bit of Free Fishing in the UK Click on Picture to left
Have FUN on the Internet - We Do
STORMY FRONT suggests You Check For Traffic Problems
do not mention
the name of
lady on BBC
instead we are
sport and entertainment near you with your
local BBC Where I Live
website. Choose your
nearest location in Wessex & Cornwall:
THE AREA OF SOMERSET
OR AVON YOU REQUIRE
websites in Britain
|CLICK HERE FOR ICE SKATING & Skiing REFERENCE UK|
a full list of theatres in the UK. Click on
conditions in Taunton at
this time are shown on the left. Enter other towns to
find the weather
|We try and
include as many click
throughs as possible. We do not charge for our
services but would be
obliged if the owners of the attraction sites would
including our banner above
and aim it at www.wessextouristboard.org.uk
Simtropolis Pictures of Camelot City. Capital of Wessex 2008
Created by Ginger Blokey - Simtropolis Geek Trixie Winner 2007
Location of National Trusts Sites in Wessex
Click here for www.nationaltrust.org.uk
click on blue to visit the sites
West, New Wellington Road, Taunton, TA1 5NA
: 01823 331356
Fax : 01823 331356
||FROM NORTH M5 Leave the M5 at junction 18 (signposted A4 Bristol & Airport). Take the A4 towards Bristol following signs for the airport. Go past Bristol City Football ground and connect with the A38 towards Taunton, the airport is situated 8 miles South of Bristol on the A38.||
||FROM SOUTH M5 Leave the M5 at Junction 22, at roundabout take 3rd exit signposted A38. At East Brent roundabout joining the A370 take 2nd exit signposted A38 & airport. Continue on this road for approx 11 miles, airport is on the left.|
Poole to Cherbourg
Plymouth to Roscoff & Santander
Weymouth to St.Malo & Channel Islands
International Airport is situated off the A30, five
miles from the City
of Exeter. From the M5 motorway junction 29, travel
1 mile eastbound on
Paddington(London) to Plymouth Line
08457 000 125
Tel : Enquiries:
08457 48 49 50
Fax : 0845 600 8363
First Southern National
run buses in Somerset and Dorset
Tower Street, Taunton
|Tel : 01823 272033|
Vicarage Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3ES
National Rail Enquiries
to Exeter Line
tel:0845 6000 650 or 0845 6050 441
Fax : 023 8072 8187
We found this Interesting Tour of Literary LITERARY WESSEX by World Tours
List of Interesting Sites
Cerdic Merchandise and show your connection
with the Ancient Kingdom of
Cerdic's Kids Jousting Shirt