Fifteen miles east of Sherborne on the A30, SHAFTESBURY perches on a spur of lumpy hills, with severe gradients on three sides of the town. On a clear day, views from the town are terrific – one of the best vantage points is Gold Hill, quaint, cobbled and very steep. At its crest, the local history museum displays items ranging from locally made buttons, for which the area was once renowned, to a mummified cat.
Pilgrims used to flock to Shaftesbury to pay homage to the bones of Edward the Martyr, which were brought to the Abbey in 978, though now only the footings of the abbey church survive, just off the main street. St Peter’s Church on the marketplace is one of the few reminders of Shaftesbury’s medieval grandeur, when it boasted a castle, twelve churches and four market crosses.