Exploring SE England

May 16th, 2014, 01:56 PM
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Exploring SE England

I'm headed to Salisbury UK on June 27 to explore the area. I have ancestors who came from the area hundreds of years ago. One village I particularly want to visit is Cerne Abbas, where many of my ancestors came from. I have only 3 days to explore. I love history, especially from around the middle ages. Any suggestions on what I might seek out while I'm there? Any other towns/villages I should stay overnight other than Salisbury? I'm prepared to rent a car once I get there.
I've read "Sarum" & "London" by Montgomery, also all of Thomas Hardy's books. Any other books you might recommend? Thanks!
roundthebend is offline  
May 16th, 2014, 02:20 PM
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Hi Roundthebend,

Your trip sounds like a fun exploration. Not to be too technical, but Salisbury is more "south west" than "south east" as your title implies. I am sure that you will get many suggestions from posters on this board who live in the area.

Hardy's Dorset is considered West Country. I took a tour of the area a few years back which I thoroughly enjoyed. Count me as another Hardy fan. I believe that his birthplace is open to the public, along with the house he later lived in.

THOMAS HARDY by Claire Tomalin is a great bio of the author which emphasizes how much the landscape/language/customs of the countryside are captured in his novels.

Good luck and let us know how you genealogy work goes...
latedaytraveler is offline  
May 16th, 2014, 02:50 PM
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Do you like hiking? Go to see the Cerne Giant! https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cerne-giant/

There used to be a potter called Paul Green living in Cerne Abbas but he may well have retired.
I love his work.
sassy_cat is offline  
May 16th, 2014, 09:38 PM
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Definitely not SE. If it was me, I wouldn't base in Salisbury for this (though visiting the city on your way south would work). I'd probably stay in Dorchester, Lyme Regis or somewhere on the Dorset coast . . . Or in an inland village. It is a great part if the country to explore.

You'll definitely need a car.
janisj is offline  
May 17th, 2014, 12:01 AM
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Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd may interest you...and his novel London
jamikins is offline  
May 17th, 2014, 12:37 AM
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Another book recommendation would be Pillars of the Earth by Follet. It's a long but fun historical fiction book. It's about the building of medieval cathedrals and uses the Salisbury cathedral as one of its inspirations.
BKP is offline  
May 17th, 2014, 05:49 AM
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You should reserve the car ahead of time, much less expensive. Do you need a car with automatic transmission? They're relatively rare, might be hard to find in a small town. Or they promise you a car with AT, then, for whatever reason, don't have one when you arrive. Picking up the car at an airport or a larger town is your best bet for AT.
Mimar is offline  
May 17th, 2014, 06:37 AM
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Agree with Janis that Salisbury's a bit out of your way for Cerne. You could probably find a nice B&B in Cerne or another pretty village in the area, or if you want somewhere bigger for restaurant choice, I've never been terribly charmed by Dorchester, but Wareham, Christchurch, Swanage are all lovely imo.

Dorset's one of my favourite counties - really pretty countryside. There's a county tourism website which will give you some ideas of things to do: http://www.visit-dorset.com/

One of my favourites is the ruin of Corfe Castle - very dramatic setting.

If you want to follow up your family history, the parish and other historical records are at Dorset History Centre in Dorchester. Some things are online but not everything:


OTOH, if you stick with Salisbury with one long day trip to Cerne in the middle, which is doable, there are plenty of good sites near Salisbury for your other two days: the cathedral in Salisbury, Old Sarum, Stonehenge.
Nonconformist is offline  
May 17th, 2014, 06:42 AM
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PS - looking at your specific dates you might need to cross out my suggestion of Dorset History Centre unless you did it on your first day - it's open on Fridays but not on that Saturday, or Sundays at all.
Nonconformist is offline  
May 17th, 2014, 07:00 AM
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We have recently returned from a brief visit to the UK. We stayed in a great pub near Andover, simply because we had a family do in Andover on one of the days. The other day was bank holiday Monday. We visited a couple of hillforts near Salisbury, and wanted to visit Montissfont Abbey but it was packed. So we headed for the New Forest instead, visiting Romsey, and walking around in the Forest, before heading back up via Salisbury Plain and Ludgershall Castle.
It was a great day out, and with a car I see no reason not to base yourself in Salisbury and travel around from there. Alternatively consider Dorchester or Blandford Forum. Have a look and see if you can find a pub with rooms rather than a hotel, too.
Try and get to the New Forest if you can.
hetismij2 is offline  
May 18th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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Many thanks to all for great information! I'm taking notes and will use as many of your recommendations as I can.
roundthebend is offline  
May 18th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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Another book to read would be 'The Spire" by Nobel prize winner William Golding - another tale about the building of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral.
annhig is offline  
May 18th, 2014, 01:05 PM
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I'd stay in Salisbury or Blandford (Forum is a piece of Victorian nonsense ) Shaftsbury, but only visit Dorchester during the day. There are three main hill forts in the area Old Sarum, Maiden Castle and Badbury Rings. Maiden castle is by far the biggest and has evidence that it was actually attacked and taken by the Romans (unlike the other 2).

Book "Rogue Male"
bilboburgler is offline  
May 19th, 2014, 08:04 AM
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I've pretty much decided to take the train into Salisbury, spend the day touring the area, then head for Cerne Abbas for 3 nights. From there I'll spend time exploring Cerne, Yeovil (also a family history)and head up to Bath for an afternoon. It's all new to me so I'm sure I'll enjoy everything. Thanks for all of your thoughtful comments!
roundthebend is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 01:01 AM
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roundthebend - are you hiring a car when you leave Salisbury? it might be difficult to see all that you want to see without one.
annhig is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 08:10 PM
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Annhig, I've got the car reserved. It's a little Fiat Mini so I can squeeze by other cars on those narrow roads. And unlike most people, I like the stick shift!
roundthebend is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 11:10 PM
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round, I've driven for years on these roads and I've never used a small one yet. If the road is narrow and has any affect on you it will be too narrow for two cars so you have to learn to back up. This really only happens out in the country.

Everywhere else the roads are normal size and having a little car will not help you, being able to drive a straight line is however a critical skill. Road position is vital, an American friend of mine drove down a road in the UK and heard pop pop pop as he smashed a line of wing mirrors, just too far to the left.
bilboburgler is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 12:57 AM
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If there's one rule I've developed about driving on the wrong side of the road, it's make sure you're comfortable.

This means seats wide enough for comfort, decent temperature-management technology, having a car big enough to avoid being intimidated, having a big enough engine to accelerate out of danger and being high enough to see properly. These all get MORE crucial on congested roads (by US standards, there are no uncongested roads, ever, in Britain. Not even at 5 am on a Sunday morning)

After taking out a Fiat 500 onto the Palermo ring road, shortly after passing my test, I'll NEVER make the false economy of driving a small car on the wrong side again.

Don't make my mistake.
flanneruk is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 04:23 AM
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I agree with Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd! Read the book before you go.
You'll be very glad you did.
starrs is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 12:26 PM
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well, roundthebend, you've had plenty of driving advice.

beware those dastardly hedges attacking your wing-mirrors!
annhig is offline  

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