Nestled in the Southern part of England, Dorset is a picturesque county that boasts a diverse landscape, from charming countryside to dramatic coastline. This area is distinguished by the breathtaking Jurassic Coast, fertile valleys, stunning cliffs, and quaint villages ever vibrant with English heritage.

Our area guide opens up a window to Dorset's quaint charm, providing the perfect blend of city, coast, and country living. We delve into practical details on living in this county, including education, significant landmarks, transport commerce, and property prices. Experience a lifestyle steeped in history, natural beauty, and tradition when you choose to reside in Dorset.

History of Dorset

The history of Dorset is steeped in riches dating back to Neolithic times, making it a fascinating destination for both history buffs and casual visitors. It was home to the Romans, who left behind mosaic floorings in their villas and mints in Dorchester. After the Norman invasion, numerous classic English castles were built in strategic locations, including Corfe Castle. The county is also renowned as the birthplace of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy, whose works often depicted the life and landscape of Dorset. Industrial history is marked by the boom in quarrying of Purbeck limestone and Portland stone, which has shaped the architecture of many significant buildings nationwide.


Dorset teems with natural and historical landmarks that offer a sense of rich antiquity coupled with stunning landscapes. The world-renowned Jurassic Coast is a golden highlight stretching for almost 100 miles of dramatic coastline. Dominated by iconic landmarks such as Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architectural prowess of the past can be found at the Corfe Castle ruins, a leftover from the English Civil War. Furthermore, the Maiden Castle, the largest and most complex Iron Age hillfort in Britain, provides a deep dive into the ancient history of Dorset.

Landmarks we love

  • Abbotsbury Swannery: Located in the village of Abbotsbury, this swannery is the only managed colony of nesting mute swans in the world. The beautiful sight of these swans on the serene lagoon against the monumental coastline is truly mesmerizing.
  • Weymouth Beach: Situated in Weymouth, this soft sandy beach is a haven for beachgoers, showcasing a beautiful bay surrounded by Georgian architecture.
  • Sculpture by the Lakes: A tranquil outdoor art venue featuring world-renowned sculptor Simon Gudgeon’s work, located in Pallington. It combines art and nature to offer a tranquil retreat.
  • Portland Bill Lighthouse: This iconic lighthouse at the Southern tip of the Isle of Portland offers stunning panoramas of the seascape and Dorset's dramatic coastline.
  • The Blue Pool: A unique attraction in Wareham, the pool is famous for its ever-changing colours, from turquoise to green, caused by fine clay suspensions in the water.

Top 10 things to do in Dorset

  • Visit Athelhampton House and Gardens: This impressive manor house in Puddletown offers a great day out with beautiful gardens, artistically designed rooms, and historic charm.
  • Stroll around Bournemouth Beach: Enjoy the seven-mile beach with its soft sands, clear waters, and vibrant pier filled with attractions.
  • Explore the Tyneham Village: This 'lost' village in Purbeck was abandoned during WWII and restored, providing frozen snapshots in time.
  • Savour seafood at Portland Harbour: Renowned for its fresh local seafood, the harbour offers a unique dining experience.
  • Trek the South West Coast Path: Explore a stretch of England's longest waymarked long-distance footpath and a National Trail.
  • Delve into history at The Tank Museum: Located in Bovington, the museum houses an impressive collection of armoured vehicles.
  • Relax at Brownsea Island: Catch a boat from Poole to explore this tranquil island, home to wildlife including red squirrels.
  • Browse Antiques at Dorchester Curiosity Centre: For lovers of all things vintage and unique, the center offers a wide selection of antiques and curiosities.
  • Cycle through New Forest National Park: Get on a bike and explore the picturesque landscapes of the New Forest, dotted with quaint villages and wild ponies.
  • Visit Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum: Discover the story of the six Tolpuddle Martyrs, whose story had a profound impact on trade unions and workers' rights.

Our recommended areas to live in Dorset

  • Bournemotuh: Known for its vibrant nightlife and stunning beaches, Bournemouth is perfect for those who enjoy the buzz of a bustling city with easy access to the coast. The city centre houses a range of amenities, and properties vary from Victorian and Edwardian homes to modern apartments.
  • Dorchester: Steeped in history and tradition, Dorchester offers a blend of old and new which is perfect for families. There are plenty of schools, parks, and amenities, offering a balance of urban and rural living. Properties range from charming cottages, terraced houses to new developments.
  • Weymouth: A classic seaside town with sandy beaches and a picturesque harbour, ideal for families or anyone seeking a relaxed coastal lifestyle. Housing options include terraced houses, detached homes, and new builds, all within walking distance of the beautiful beach.
  • Poole: Boasting one of the most beautiful harbours in the country, Poole is surrounded by nature reserves, parks, and beaches. There is a wide selection of property types from modern flats in the town center to grand houses in luscious areas like Sandbanks, often touted as 'Britain's Palm Beach'.
  • Shaftesbury: Known for Gold Hill, made famous in the Hovis advert, Shaftesbury is a charming market town. With stunning countryside views, it's perfect for those looking for a peaceful, rural lifestyle. The property landscape includes quaint cottages and large, detached homes, all within easy reach of local amenities.

Best schools in Dorset

When it comes to schooling, Dorset has a plethora of options ranging from public to private schools, primary to tertiary education. Thomas Hardy School in Dorchester and Parkstone Grammar School in Poole are reputed for their high standards of education and consistent high performance in their GCSE and A-level results. For those leaning towards independent schooling, Canford School in Wimbourne and Clayesmore School in Blandford offer top-tier education. For further education, Bournemouth University and Arts University Bournemouth offer a wide range of courses and are leading institutions in their respective fields. Dorset also caters to special needs education with specialist schools such as Beaucroft Foundation School and Montacute School.

Transport links in Dorset

Dorset is excellently connected to the rest of the country through various modes of transport. The railway network serves key towns including Bournemouth, Dorchester, Sherborne, and Weymouth, with direct links to London Waterloo and Bristol. The county offers easy access to large highways including the M27, A31, and A35. Bournemouth Airport provides national and international flights, while ferries from Poole offer routes to France, the Channel Islands and Spain. For local commuting, the region is serviced by a comprehensive bus network, and a well-maintained network of cycling and walking trails connecting local villages and towns.

In conclusion, living in Dorset is all about embracing a rich, varied lifestyle surrounded by vibrant nature and steeped in history. From the bustling urban centers to the tranquil rural hamlets, the golden coastline to the lush inland wilderness, Dorset offers a unique mix that caters to diverse preferences. Whether you’re a lover of culture, history, nature, or adventure, this county provides the perfect backdrop for an enriching lifestyle. Aided by top-notch schools, robust transport links, and a strong community spirit, Dorset presents a compelling case for a move. The quality of life on offer, whether you want to start a family, retire, or simply enjoy England at its most harmonious, is simply unparalleled.

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