Standing at a ford in the river Stour, between Sherbourne and Blandford Forum, Sturminster Newton is a pleasant rural town with some good independent shops and lovely holiday cottages displaying traditional thatched roofs and bow windows. The town’s bridge, spanning the river, is of medieval origin and an impressive sight with its six seventeenth century arches. As with the surrounding rural towns, the primary economy here is agriculture and Monday is still an important market day in the town; the market is held by the eighteenth century market cross in the main square.
The town boasts two famous literary names of note; the poet William Barnes was born and educated here, while Thomas Hardy penned The Return of the Native during a couple of years spent here. There are several significant buildings to visit; the parish church dates from the fifteenth century, although much of what is visible today is much later in origin; the restored working water mill, now converted into a small museum an ancient castle are on the river’s south side, whilst quaint buildings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are in evidence in some of the coaching inns and shops along the main streets.
The town has been hosting a very popular Cheese festival in recent years; indeed 2011 brings the 12th anniversary of this two-day event, which is held each September. More than fifty cheeses are available for tasting, together with a variety of other locally produced food and non-food products, from painted glass to jewellery to pottery. The festival is a family occasion, with music, falconry displays and a host of other entertainment. Equally, the town’s annual Carnival is a popular event; the current date for the 2011 event is August 20th. A variety of stalls, shows and traditional sports and games take place in this annual town festival.
If you would like to see Sturminster Newton for yourself, why not book one of our holiday cottages there?