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A Glimpse into Shaftesbury’s Past: Captivating Photos from the Early 20th Century

Shaftesbury, a picturesque town in Dorset, gained widespread recognition through the iconic Hovis bread TV commercial. These historical photographs, captured by local photographer Albert Tyler, offer a fascinating window into daily life at the turn of the 20th century. The images showcase a thriving community, bustling markets, and charming streets that have witnessed significant changes over the past century. Visiting Shaftesbury allows one to step back in time and experience the rich history and culture of this delightful town. The best time to visit is during the late spring to early autumn months (May to September) when the weather is pleasant and local events abound.

Why Visit Shaftesbury?

Drawn by its historical significance and picturesque scenery, I found myself exploring the enchanting town of Shaftesbury. Here are five places you must visit while in Shaftesbury:

  1. Gold Hill: Famously featured in the Hovis bread TV commercial, this steep cobbled street offers stunning views and a sense of nostalgia.
  2. Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and Garden: Discover the ruins of the abbey founded in 888 AD and explore the beautiful gardens.
  3. Shaftesbury Market: Experience the local culture and buy fresh produce and handmade crafts at this historic market.
  4. Gold Hill Museum: Learn about the local history and the significance of Gold Hill through fascinating exhibits.
  5. The Ye Olde Two Brewers Inn: Enjoy a meal or drink at this historic pub, which was once the setting for a garden party photographed by Albert Tyler.

FAQ About Shaftesbury

  1. What is the significance of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury?
  • Gold Hill is renowned for its appearance in the 1973 Hovis bread TV commercial directed by Ridley Scott. The street, often referred to as “Hovis Hill,” is a symbol of nostalgia and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
  1. Who was Albert Tyler?
  • Albert Tyler was a photographer who set up his business in Shaftesbury in 1901. Originally from Shropshire, he moved to the area in his childhood and captured the everyday life of Shaftesbury until his death in 1919. His photographs are valuable records of the town’s history.
  1. What changes have occurred in Shaftesbury since the early 20th century?
  • Significant changes include the development of new homes and modern amenities. For example, the bustling cattle market photographed by Tyler in 1902 is now a flattened land ahead of a Lidl supermarket being built. Despite these changes, many historical buildings and streets have been preserved.
  1. What can visitors see at the Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and Garden?
  • Visitors can explore the ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey, founded in 888 AD, and learn about its history through exhibits. The museum also features beautiful gardens that offer a tranquil setting for reflection and relaxation.
  1. Are there any notable annual events in Shaftesbury?
  • Yes, Shaftesbury hosts several annual events, including the Shaftesbury Festival, a celebration of local arts, crafts, and food, and the Gold Hill Fair, which features stalls, entertainment, and activities for all ages. These events are best enjoyed during the warmer months.

Shaftesbury, with its blend of historical charm and scenic beauty, is a must-visit destination in Dorset. Whether you’re exploring the iconic Gold Hill or delving into the town’s rich heritage at the local museums, Shaftesbury offers a unique and memorable experience.

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