An important center in Saxon times, when it was the seat of a bishopric, Dorchester merits a visit chiefly because of its ancient abbey, but also because it's a charming little town. The main street, once a leg of the Roman road to Silchester, has timber houses, thatched cottages, ancient inns, and what must be the longest wisteria in the country (on the Old College building). Crossing the Thames at Day's Lock and turning left at Little Wittenham takes you on a bucolic and historic walk past the remains of the village's Iron Age settlements. The town is known for its alluring, but pricey, antiques shops.

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