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This small town was once at the heart of the Royal Forest of Gillingham. Records show that King John (1199–1216) and Henry III (1216–1272) both spent considerable sums on a Royal residence built just to the east of the current settlement. The residence was demolished shortly after the death of Queen Philippa – wife of Edward III – in 1369.

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The arrival of the railway in 1859 promoted rapid expansion of what was then only a small village, the new station serving also the very much larger town of Shaftesbury – which is some 6km away – situated on a nearby hill-top. In recent years the railway has again encouraged expansion; Gillingham being just 2 hours travel from London. The town (in 2002) has the accolade of being ' the fastest growing small town in Europe.' The views displayed here show the town and surrounding area on a fine autumnal day at the start of September. The older buildings in the town, covering a wide range of dates and styles, are predominantly constructed from local limestone and locally made brick (which has vibrant red colour in this part of the county).


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In the top row of pictures:

  • Approaching from the west, Wyke (and the brewery) on the skyline (picture)
  • View down Wyke road to Wyke Brewery (mid-19th century) (picture)
  • Gillingham High Street ... (picture)
  • ... which still boasts a traditional ironmongers (picture)
  • The Square, church of St Mary beyond (14th century chancel, with 19th and 20th century additions) (picture)

In the bottom row of pictures:

  • Just off The Square – the old town lockup (in use c.1750–1880) (picture)
  • An example of the vibrant red of the locally made brick – detached house on Station Road (picture)
  • An older example of the use of brick – a granary (probably early 19th century) supported on staddle-stones, Wyke Farmhouse (picture)
  • The surrounding landscape is predominantly rural – seen here to the north of the town near Savage Cat Farm, looking northwards towards Wiltshire (picture)
  • Just over 1km eastwards from The Square, slight ditches and mounds are all that remain of the Royal residence (picture)

Nearby locations that also feature in galleries on this site:

directionShaftesbury, Melbury Abbas


directionThe Caundles, Sherborne

More views of Dorset in September

Other sites on the web

The Dorset Page:   Gillingham – 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 Gillingham in this gallery were captured at high resolution.
This is images of dorset stock photography gallery 032
All photographs copyright © 1998–2003 John Allen

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