Steeped in history and tradition, Shaftesbury offers visitors breathtaking views and the warmest of welcomes.The ‘Shaston’ of Thomas Hardy’s novels, Shaftesbury is one of the oldest and highest towns in England and dominates what Hardy called the ‘engirdled and secluded’ Blackmore Vale.
The beauty of the surrounding Dorset countryside is complemented by the collection of fine historical buildings that make up the centre of Shaftesbury itself. Gold Hill, made famous by the Hovis bread advertisement, with its steep cobbles and picturesque cottages is the epitome of rural charm from a previous time. More than anything though, Shaftesbury has a wealth of pubs, restaurants, tea rooms, hotels and independent shops that carry appeal to all and sundry.
Shaftesbury SP7 0PA
With a river running next to the restaurant and bright colours splashed on the walls, this once tired pub and has recently undergone a transformation into a shabby-chic hideaway has a serenity that gives it a fairytale quality.
It’s currently catching the hearts and minds of the local crowd and many a weary traveller.At the helm and also chef patron,Tom Shaw delivers food that is really something else.The menu ranges from infusions of Europe and the Orient to the best Sunday roast around – The Fontmell is surely not one to miss.
Shaftesbury SP7 8AW
La Fleur de Lys
La Fleur de Lys is a family-run, personal, friendly restaurant with rooms established over 20 years ago in the beautiful hilltop town of Shaftesbury and located on the famous Gold ‘Hovis’ Hill.
La Fleur de Lys prides itself on serving some of the finest cuisine around, using the best locally-sourced ingredients to be found and served by friendly, efficient staff in the relaxing, candlelit restaurant.
During the Shaftesbury Festival (Saturday May 5), La Fleur de Lys is offering a specially prepared menu featuring the best local produce available on the day. This will be available for lunch and dinner – two courses cost £22 and three courses cost £27 per person.
Shaftesbury SP7 8HB
Furnished with a seamless blend of vintage finds and contemporary design and comfort, the five-star Updown Cottage perches on Gold Hill looking across the stunning views of BlackmoreVale.
This TARDIS-like home sleeps six in four bedrooms, with three bathrooms and houses a baby grand piano and cooking and dining facilities for 12. Each stay includes a breakfast hamper, Bramley toiletries, bathrobes, White Company linen,Wi-Fi and total relaxation just a minute’s walk from wonderful independent cafés, restaurants and shops.
Wiltshire SP3 6
Call: 01747 871819
Beatons is a unique new concept combining an elegant tea room and quirky bookshop in the heart of Tisbury, a vibrant village between Shaftesbury and Salisbury and, as well as Beatons (located in the very centre), there is a good selection of local shops and some great walks.
Inspired by the art and photography of Cecil Beaton, it combines a sumptuous and comfortable space, a unique selection of books, teas, coffee, light lunches and of course a range of homemade cakes and scones in the finest tradition of afternoon tea!
Whether you are looking to relax and unwind over a perfect cup of tea, browse the specially selected range of books, meet with friends or treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea, Beatons is the perfect choice.
Shaftesbury SP7 8JE
Call: 01747 850059
Shaftesbury Wines is an independent treasure-trove of real wines from small producers.You will also find a carefully selected range of malt whisky, brandy, grappa, port, hand-rolled cigars and local beer and cider.
You won’t find industrially mass-produced supermarket brands, instead you’ll find expert, friendly guidance in a non-intimidating environment where you can discover something new and delicious.
Shaftesbury SP7 8HZ
Turnbulls is the finest cheesemonger, coffee house and bistro in the Blackmore Vale, situated in the High Street of the iron age hilltop town of Shaftesbury, specialising in cheeses, local produce and homemade food.
There is one rule atTurnbulls – they want visitors to the shop to leave with a smile.The atmosphere is friendly, light and open, and the team knowledgeable and jolly.They are widely popular in the local community, and a must for visitors to this lovely area, giving you the incentive to come back time and again.
Turnbulls is that ideal mix of traditional quality with modern choices – perfectly ripe local Dorset BlueVinney sitting next to the best Gorgonzola Dolce in the world – making it one of the foremost food havens in theWest Country. It’s certainly evident as you walk through their doors.
Wiltshire SP5 5PS
Call: 01725 516207
The King John Inn
I had very high expectations for our night away at the King John Inn. One peek at its glossy website tells you that this is not your run-of-the-mill country pub with rooms above. Click on the ‘press’ page to find a host of glowing accolades and exuberant praise from the national newspapers, adding to my anticipation for the evening of indulgence that was to come.
The King John Inn sits nestled in the pretty village of Tollard Royal, in what was once said to be the monarch’s hunting ground of choice. Centuries later the Inn has not lost its hunting and shooting connections. Everything from the meat-and-game-heavy menu to the blood-sports-inspired artwork follows the theme of the oldest and most aristocratic of British traditions. I arrived wishing I were wearing just a little more tweed and driving something a little more expensive.
We began our visit with an invigorating romp around the surrounding countryside with thanks to a loan of a battered OS map and careful instructions from the friendly staff.We finished our stroll (read; hike) with a ramble through famous local Guy Ritchie’s Wiltshire seat, along the route he and his former wife famously tried to close to the public. I can see why they wanted to keep this little slice of England to themselves; the scenery in this part of the world is simply beautiful and well worth exploring to work up an appetite.All the fresh air and exercise was thirsty work and we concluded our tour of King John’s ancient lands with a well-earned pint by the roaring fire in welcoming surroundings.
Owners Alex and Gretchen have transformed this country inn from a dilapidated shell of a pub to a smart, boutique-y establishment that exudes warmth and elegance.The interior is laid- back posh – cosy but refined. Mismatched wooden chairs cluster around scrubbed pine tables, while little pots of herbs perch next to rustic candles.The artwork, although inspired by the favourite pastimes of some long-dead monarch, are modern black and white shots from arty angles – not the traditional oil paintings you might expect.
Upstairs in the bedrooms the interior design is designer-country in style.There was the obligatory enormous bed almost hidden by luxurious tweed cushions, and roll-top bath in the traditional marble bathroom. Beautiful features like the artwork (I tried to persuade my partner that they wouldn’t miss one of the paintings), antique furniture and the quirky little objets d’art sit alongside state-of-the-art gadgets (futuristic phone, contemporary shower, top-of-the-range tea and coffee making facilities, flat screen TV, the list goes on) to make this an extremely stylish and comfortable place to stay. Doubles start at £120 for B&B including morning papers.
At dinner the atmosphere was busy and cheerful. Hoots of laughter and jolly conversation rung out as we perused the menu over a G&T in the candlelit bar. There is a distinctly British feel to the ever-changing menu and the chefs here place great emphasis on the quality and provenance of the ingredients – everything is extremely local and seasonal, cooked imaginatively and with quirky elements. I tried the deep-fried cuttlefish with chorizo and clams (delicious) and my partner chose bacon with deep-fried pheasant eggs – basically a little English breakfast on a plate (always a winner if a little unusual at this time of day). Our mains were hearty and warming on a chilly evening, mine a tasty chowder full of fresh, delicate seafood and my partner’s an absolute triumph of a rump steak, the best either of us had tried in a long time.
The availability of wine by the carafe put paid to our usual discussions over which tipple to choose. I opted for a crisp Chablis (£18 for 250ml) and my partner a delicate Pinot Noir.The wine list was reassuringly expensive and extremely varied, not surprising considering that the King John has its own wine shop onsite and a wine merchant as its owner. Everything on the wine list is available to buy in the shop.
The following morning we headed down to a peaceful breakfast in the sun-drenched bar.Taking my time over the paper with a scrumptious plate of eggs Benedict and a pot of tea, all was right with the world. I felt well-fed, well-rested and fantastically relaxed.Whether you are partial to the great outdoors or just love good food and fine wine, you will enjoy everything the King John Inn has to offer. What’s not to like?
By mixing luscious ingredients, anoraky attention to detail and plenty of fun, Honeybuns aim to deliver the ‘WOW’ and ‘YUM’ factors in every cake they make.And Honeybuns have teamed up with flavour to offer one lucky reader a £25 gift bag and three ‘Tea Party in a Purse’ prizes to the runners-up.
Visit www.honeybuns.co.uk/flavour and answer a simple question by June 1 for your chance to win. Good luck!
Dorset SP7 9HW
The Coppleridge Inn
Set in 15 acres of beautiful Dorset countryside, The Coppleridge Inn offers a wonderful destination where you can have a game of tennis,walk your dog, let the children run about and play, get married, enjoy a wonderful meal inside or out on the terrace, stay in cosy ground floor rooms, hold a celebration dinner or party and essentially relax in a truly British Inn.
What more could you ask for?
Dorset SP8 5JG
Hunter-gathering for kitchens
La Chasse is a small, speciality company dedicated to sourcing and distributing quality locally-produced artisan products to the food industry.They are particularly proud of their association with local producers such as Creedy Carver (free- range ducks) and Castlemead (Somerset free-range guinea fowl). Stan Stanbury supplies La Chasse with fantastic wild red deer venison from the heart of Exmoor, Laverstoke Park in Hampshire supply buffalo mozzarella and buffalo meat, while the sirloins of beef come from a small slaughterhouse in Taunton, which are hung to order for our customers.
With charcuterie, salad leaf/watercress, premium puff pastry from Dorset, Luscombe drinks from Devon and local cheeses and chutneys, they have a full range of ‘taste’ from the West to offer.
“La Chasse are helpful, flexible, honest and on time”– Tim Maddens (Head Chef, River Cottage)
“La Chasse continue to promote & distribute our Free Range ducks & chickens with great vigour, together we make a great team’ James Coleman, producer Creedy Carver”
Dorset DT10 2AF
Plumber Manor Country
Plumber Manor is a delightful stone manor house situated in a charming garden. Bordered by the Devilish stream in the heart of Thomas Hardy’s ‘vale of little dairies’, it’s one of the prettiest parts of the Dorset countryside.
It is owned and run by the Prideaux-Brune family, who have lived in the house for the last 400 years and their famed hospitality from Brian in the kitchen to Richard, Tim and Alison behind the bar, has been continuous since 1972, since when the the restaurant has featured in the Good Food Guide.
The hotel has 16 bedrooms, six in the main house and 10 purpose-built in the courtyard.The restaurant is open seven nights a week and for Sunday lunch. The relaxing atmosphere belies its excellent hospitality, delicious locally-sourced food and lovely bedrooms. Come and join the fun!
Tisbury SP3 6HD
De-Liz Deli is situated in the heart of Tisbury where it has built up a reputation for selling delicious fresh food on a daily basis and offers any budding chef a larder of seasonal and essential ingredients.
The best local, seasonal produce is also well represented, from fresh asparagus to ice cream. Get it while you can!
Open seven days a week from 8.30am with freshly baked bread and pastries.
Wiltshire SP3 6BN
The Fox and Hounds
The Fox and Hounds is a welcoming, family-run thatched country pub with magnificent views across the BlackmoreVale.They are proud of their quality, locally- sourced food and choice of fine ales and wines, which you can enjoy beside a roaring log fire in winter, in the courtyard garden or on the village green in the warmer months. Dogs and children are always very welcome.
www.holiday-rentals.co.uk (Property Number p803557)
A blend of traditional and modern, Barbers Cottage is an 18th-century listed holiday rental in the heart of Shaftesbury. Recently refurbished, you can relax in the supersoft bedding, wallow in the freestanding bath or snuggle up on the sofa in front of the fire.
Short breaks available, perfect for families, friends or as a romantic stay with a garden and private patio area. Sleeps five.
Dorset BH21 4BY
Call: 01258 857969
Visit Barford Farm at Sturminster Marshall and savour the flavours including the award-winning Whisky and Orange Marmalade, Liquorice,Amaretto,Walnut, Coconut, Lemon and Blueberry ice creams. These homemade, delicious ice creams and sorbets can all be devoured in the stunningly beautiful garden.These perfect Dorset delights are ideal for spring and summer.Free parking and entry.
17 Bell Street,
Shaftesbury SP7 8AR
Call: 01747 858436
Once you’ve exhausted yourself across the cobbles of Shaftesbury, you’ll look to reflect over a drink and a bite to eat. Look no further than Ridings, an incredible European Café Tea Room and the extraordinary result of one man’s vision – it’s a true hidden gem.
A continental-inspired bistro, it’s an unordinary approach in a very established town, but there lies the charm. It defies convention and has found a way to stand out in a more memorable way. From the mouthwatering Italian cream cakes to the German honey on the Belgian waffles, everything is taken a step further to create a unique experience.
Tisbury SP3 6PX
The Beckford Arms
The Beckford Arms is a traditional yet stylish country pub located on the edge of the rolling parkland of the Fonthill Estate in south Wiltshire just off the A303 – only 20 minutes from Stonehenge or Salisbury and under two hours from London by car or train.
The Beckford offers great food in a classic pub environment with all the comforts of a smart hotel, but at bed and breakfast prices.
The pub has a main bar, restaurant, sitting room, a private dining room in the library, eight bedrooms, and a large garden and terrace.
Dorset SP8 5HS
The Stapleton Arms
The Stapleton Arms is a country pub with rooms situated in the pretty North Dorset village of Buckhorn Weston close to the A303.The pub has a spacious bar, elegant dining room and a secluded garden in which to enjoy the great range of draught and bottled beers, quality wines and delicious food on offer.
The changing menu is simple but modern and innovative, prepared using the very best fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Upstairs there are four individually furnished bedrooms offering supreme comfort with fantastic beds, Egyptian cotton linen and state-of-the-art bathrooms.