Sturminster Newton

Sturminster NewtonThe town is situated at a historic crossing point on the river Stour and was originally two separate settlements; Sturminster on the north side andNewtonCastleon the south. It was recorded in the Anglo Saxon charter of 968.  The ford was replaced in the 16th century with a six-arch stone bridge, and a quarter kilometre embankment crossing the flood plain.  The bridge was widened from 12 to 18feet in around 1820 and remains today.  When walking across the bridge look out for the sign placed in the 19th century which states that anyone damaging the bridge would be transported to Australia as a felon by order of the Town Council.

Sturminster MillOn the south bank of the river is the working watermill.  It was restored to full working order in 1980 and now produces flour again.  Visitors can have a working demonstration and learn more of the history of the area.   Sturminster Mill is a short walk from Owl Barn.

Hidden on the hill above the bridge are the ruins of SturminsterNewtonCastle, which was a manor house rather than a defensive building. The 14th century building stands on a crescent shaped mound which could be the site of an Iron age hill fort.  The town and castle were part of Sturminster Newton hundred.

Thomas Hardy lived, for a short period, in a house calledRiversidein Sturminster Newton and while there he wrote “Return of the Native”.  He made many references to the town in his books and he immortalised theTownBridgefamous in his poem “On Sturminster Bridge”.

The Town is also famous for once having the largest livestock market inDorset, founded in 1272, sadly now gone; as is the railway which was dismantled by Beeching in 1966.

The town centre is built in a mixture of styles, including 17th and 18th century thatched cottages, Georgian stone buildings, and 19th century brick buildings. Set back from the main road is the market square and parish church, which was rebuilt in 1486 by the abbots ofGlastonbury. The church was heavily modified in the 19th century, but the carved wagon roof remains.

Monday is Market day when there is a wide selection of local produce and goods for sale in the town centre.

The Exchange is an entertainments centre with a selection of activities and events all year round.  (www.stur-exchange.co.uk)