Monday, 3 April 2017


Wareham Quay

We've walked around Wareham before, but today's walk with Chris and Dave was based on the Wareham vistors guide which describes separate town and walls walks, plus the weather was better.

We decided to start from the Quay and do the town walk first, heading clockwise round the town. We walked along Pound Lane and were surprised to discover that this area was once the site of Wareham Castle, built by William the Conqueror and destroyed at some later date. All the at remains are some massive foundations, 15ft underground. This Norman arch in the wall of a house is believed to be reused from the castle.

We passed the Town Pound (for stray and impounded animals) and turned into West Street passing the Rex Cinema.

At the central crossroads the Town Hall (1869-70) was on the opposite corner. Pevsner describes it as "a wretchedly mean affair", which I have to say seems rather harsh. The corner clock tower is rather charming.

Opposite is the Red Lion Hotel, built after the fire of 1762.

We turned left into North St (the four crossing roads are helpfully named for the compass points), where at the top lies the Saxon church of Martin, thought to date from 1030 and to be the oldest church in Dorset. Pevsner tells that the tower, old though it looks, can be dated to the 16th century.

Inside, there is an effigy of T E Lawrence sculpted by Eric Kennington, some 17th century wall paintings over the chancel arch ...

... and 12th century ones in the chancel.

We headed back down North Street to turn left into East Street, passing Streche's Almshouses. They date originally from 1418, but were rebuilt in 1712; the cupola was added in the 19th century.

Now down Church Street to reach St Mary's church. This too was founded in the Saxon period, but the Saxon nave was demolished and rebuilt in a gothic style in 1842. Other parts date from the 14th and 16th centuries (including the handsome tower).

That brought us to the end of the town walk and now embarked on the walks, again heading along Pound St, but turning left into West St climb the grassy slope of the walls. This was our first view looking along the top. Pevsner explains that the banks have become more prominent since they were scarped in 1940 against possible tank attack.

At the north-west corner, the walls turn sharp right and continue more or less parallel to the River Piddle. The marshy nature of the area around the town explains why it did not develop beyond its existing boundaries.

This is even more apparent on the north east corner.

A less clearly right-angled turn brought us along to East side of the walls, which were noticeably less open and more wooded.

The South wall is in effect the river Frome, so our walls walk ended like the town one at St Mary's.

Conditions: sunny and warm.

Distance: about 2.5 miles, maybe 3.

Rating: four stars. Very enjoyable, even if there were no really major sights.

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