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A small town at the western end of Poole harbour, situated on a mound between the rivers Piddle and Frome. The town still retains its earth-embankment Saxon town walls (attrib. King Alfred, late 9th century). In 1762 a great fire swept through Wareham (a common hazard in Dorset in earlier centuries, when thatch was the predominant roofing material) destroying a large part of the town. A consequence of this fire being that the present day buildings date mostly from the 18th and early 19th century.

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The southern extent of the town is constrained by the River Frome, which at this point is still tidal. The small Quay is a reminder that Wareham was until the 13th century the main port in this part of Dorset. This status changed however when traders moved down river to take advantage of deeper waters in the bay, setting up a new town in the process – Poole. The pictures of Wareham seen here were taken on a bright but showery day in May.


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In the top row of pictures:

  • View of Wareham from the south-east (SY 930 863) (picture)
  • River Frome, downstream of Wareham (picture)
  • The Saxon town walls, western side of Wareham (picture)
  • The view northwards along South Street and North Streets (picture)
  • Church of St Martin, Saxon, contains several wall paintings from the 12th century and an effigy of T.E. Lawrence. The most complete example of a Saxon church in Dorset (picture)

In the bottom row of pictures:

  • The view from the entrance doorway of St Martin's, southwards along North Street (picture)
  • Corner of Pound Lane and Trinity Lane – the Rev. John Hutchins M.A., rector of Wareham 1744–73, compiled here his History of the Antiquities of the county of Dorset (picture)
  • West Street, including one of the last cinemas still lit by gas lights (tours of the cinema during Dorset Architectural Heritage Week) (picture)
  • West Street (picture)
  • River Frome and The Quay, Church of St Mary behind (picture)

See also: The Old Quay in August

Nearby locations that also feature in galleries on this site:

directionBere Regis

directionArne and Middlebere, Poole, Studland Bay

directionCorfe Castle, Swanage

directionMoreton and Wool

More views of Dorset in May

Other sites on the web

Purbeck District Council:   events, facts, links and accommodation

Bestwall Quarry Archaeology Project:   ongoing excavations in the gravel quarry to the east of Wareham, with finds ranging from the Mesolithic right through to Post-Medieval

The Dorset Page:   Wareham – local information and links to further resources on the web

Maps of the area on streetmap.co.uk:   1:50,000 – detail, 1:250,000 – locality and route to get there

picture resolution
The pictures of Wareham in this gallery were captured at high resolution.
This is images of dorset stock photography gallery 021
All photographs copyright © 1998–2003 John Allen

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