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Blog (History) - Visit Wiltshire

Mompesson House Salisbury

Step back in time at Mompesson House

This year National Trust are celebrating 40 years of Mompesson House being opened to visitors. The house is situated in one of the most famous addresses in Salisbury, the Cathedral Close, and it’s hard not to be taken aback by it.

REME Museum

A Family Day Out at The REME Museum

As a new museum in the county which details the story of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers within the Army, I thought this would be of particular interest to the three boys (two mine and one visiting) that I found myself having to entertain for the day. 

Wilton Windmill

Celebrate some of Wiltshire’s unique heritage this September

During September, many buildings open up for the annual Heritage Open Days. Some of these buildings are ones that aren’t usually open to the general public whereas others give people the opportunity to visit an attraction free of charge.

We take a look at some of the highlights of this year’s Heritage Open Days event that you can enjoy here in Wiltshire.

St Thomas' Church

Celebrate Church Tourism Week here in Wiltshire

Did you know that 21-30 July is Church Tourism Week? This got us thinking about some of the interesting churches and places of worship (both former and existing) that we have around Wiltshire and some of the quirky features and facts that you might not know about them…

Roses at Abbey House Gardens

Roses, Ruins and Royalty – A summer’s walk around Malmesbury

Wanting to make the most of the Great British summer, I decided to head off and discover the historic market town of Malmesbury and explore the beautiful Abbey House Gardens.
From the very moment I walked towards St John’s Bridge on the entrance to the town, I sensed this place had many of tales to tell. The architecture of the Avon Mills building, former cloth and silk mills built in 1793 by a clothier named Francis Hill and the surrounding Cotswold stone townhouses lining the High Street, clearly reflecting Malmesbury’s trade and industrial heritage.

West Amesbury

Exploring Amesbury and villages

Many people know of Amesbury due to its close proximity to Stonehenge. In fact, the town is only two miles from the iconic site and in addition to the World Heritage Site, there is an interesting history to be found in and around the town.

Castle Hill, Mere

An exploration of Mere

Mere is often one of those places I’ve been meaning to stop by at but haven’t had the time. Like many people, I’ve passed it plenty of times on my way to and from the West Country and to nearby Stourhead. I decided that I was going to change this, particularly as from the passing bits of the town that I have seen I have been very impressed.

Alton Priors (C) Diane Neale LRPS

Top 10 churches to visit in Wiltshire

Like many parts of the UK, there are plenty of historic churches here in Wiltshire. These sometime overlooked buildings are often heritage gems in beautiful locations with their stories of the past to tell. We’ve teamed up with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) to give you the top 10 of their Wiltshire-based churches to visit and reasons why…

Salisbury Cathedral Graffiti

Salisbury Cathedral Graffiti Tour

If you’ve ever joined Salisbury Cathedral for one of their Tower Tours then you will have probably seen a fair bit of ancient graffiti as you approach the base of the spire.

Cathedral guide, Steve Dunn (with his team of approximately 60 volunteers) has recently launched a three year project aimed at recording the various marks left on the building over the centuries which will soon be able to be explored on a guided tour.

Avebury Stone Circle

Exploring Avebury World Heritage Site with Oldbury Tours

Visitors to Wiltshire may have been to Avebury Stone Circle, however how many of you have explored the wider landscape at this World Heritage Site?

I went on a trip to discover more with Laurence Davis from Oldbury Tours. Accompanying us for the half day tour were Ellie and Gillian Farago from Heritage B&B in Calne. The three of us had all visited Avebury previously and had various different levels of knowledge about the history and spirituality of the area.

Royal Signals Museum

Signalling a royal visit – a family day out at The Royal Signals Museum

When my 3 year old son (nearly 4 as he keeps on reminding me), asked if we could go an “army museum“ I knew just the place to take him. George loves creative role play and can often be found attacking and defending his castle with his toy soldiers, knights and action figures, so we planned a visit to the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford Camp, home of The Royal Corps. Of Signals, a short drive from the Wiltshire border.

Roman Baths

A day trip to Bath

Wiltshire makes a great base for a day out to the World Heritage Site of Bath. Bath is just a short hop across the border into Somerset and there’s easy access by train from Salisbury, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Warminster, Chippenham and Swindon (to name just a few places!).

The Laverton, Westbury

Victorian Westbury and the Blue Plaque Trail

When you think of Westbury you probably think of the Westbury White Horse. It certainly dominates the landscape and is always a welcome sight when I’m passing through the town on the train.

However, Westbury is not just famous for its White Horse, it also has a rich Victorian heritage which is now being celebrated in a new Victorian Westbury exhibition in The Laverton.

Spring Flowers

Fast forward into February: 17 ways to beat the winter blues

If, like me, the start of the year has left you feeling all a bit ‘January-ish’, it helps to have something to look forward to. So here are 17 great ideas for things to see and do around Wiltshire that are sure to brighten up the first few months of 2017.

Salisbury Cathedral's Library

A tour of Salisbury Cathedral’s Library

Given I grew up in Salisbury and the nature of my job here at VisitWiltshire I’ve always felt that I have known the Cathedral pretty well however one place I’d never ventured to was the Cathedral’s library.

The Old Mill, Salisbury

A winter’s walk in Salisbury

Last Saturday was exactly the kind of winter’s day I like best – cold and crisp but with plenty of sunshine. Perfect walking weather. This route is one of my favourites as it starts and finishes in the city centre and includes some of Salisbury’s best-loved views.

Gold in Wiltshire Museum

Discovering gold in Devizes

VisitWiltshire have run several joint-instameets with our friends Igerswiltshire. It’s an opportunity for like-minded photographers, whether using a smart phone or DSLR to get together, share ideas and get creative.

Our fourth instameet of the year was set to be in the market town of Devizes, in the heart of Wiltshire and this time it would coincide with the national Heritage Open Days event.

Lacock

An autumnal explore of Lacock

When did autumn arrive so soon? I must admit when I arrived at Lacock in the glorious September sunshine I wasn’t expecting to see so many colourful leaves dotted on the floor and mushrooms and other fungi growing from the leaf litter in the wooded areas, autumn has descended upon us quicker than I had expected.

Mere, Wiltshire

Discovering Mere’s hidden heritage

It was a glorious summer’s morning day. Clear blue skies, warm sunshine and beautiful birdsong, perfect for a peaceful walk to explore the historical town of Mere and the surrounding area.

Silbury Hill

Exploring the Avebury World Heritage Site

When I have overseas visitors coming to stay with me, I always recommend that they make a visit to Avebury. The site here forms part of the same World Heritage Site as Stonehenge but is almost like Stonehenge’s lesser-known sister.

Marden Henge

Visiting an archaeological dig with Wiltshire Museum

It’s a well-known fact that Wiltshire is a very historical place. There are a lot of mysteries surrounding the history of this county most notably from the henges of Stonehenge and Avebury which form the famous World Heritage Site. Wiltshire is also home to another 'Superhenge', Marden Henge, near to Devizes in the Vale of Pewsey.

Concorde

Concorde, an Aircraft Carrier and more at Fleet Air Arm Museum

Recently I made the short hop across the Wiltshire border to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton. Having not been to the museum before (except to the Yeovilton Air Day a couple of years ago) my initial impression was just how large the museum is – a lot bigger than I was expecting.

Imber, Wiltshire

The ‘lost’ village of Imber

Crossing the heart of Salisbury Plain, I travelled to the village of Imber. So what, you may be thinking? Well, Imber’s a bit different to other Wiltshire villages in that it sits in the heart of Salisbury Plain and in 1943 the villagers were evacuated to allow the military to use the area as training grounds in the war efforts.

Exploring Wiltshire churches

Saintly delights in Wiltshire

You may have seen that we’ve just launched some new Saints and Sinners trails in conjunction with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT). The routes give people the opportunity to explore some of our historic Wiltshire churches with a foodie stop nearby.
I made a visit with Linden from The CCT to two of these churches to discover some of the hidden treasures that lay within them…

Tidworth Mortuary Chapel

Tidworth – churches and more

Most people know of Tidworth for its military connections. The town sits on the edge of Salisbury Plain and is a major hub for the army. What you may not know is that there’s a couple of hidden gems that visitors can discover on a visit to this town.

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection

A Volunteer’s Story

It started, for me, on a misty July morning back in 2012, when all the aircraft were moved from Boscombe Down, six miles down the road to a new home at Old Sarum under police escort. This was nothing to do with national security, just the business of avoiding the rush hour.

Corsham

Charming Corsham

On a beautifully sunny February day, I made my way to the charming town of Corsham nestled between Chippenham and Bath, just off the A4.

Churches Conservation Trust

Historic Churches in the Wylye Valley

I was given the opportunity to join The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) on a tour of the beautiful Wylye Valley – the area between Warminster and Salisbury which is noted for its pretty villages and quite frankly stunning countryside.

Merchants House

The Merchant’s House of Marlborough

On Marlborough’s historic High Streets sits, the impressive Merchant’s House. I paid a visit on a warm, July day to see what delights would be unfolded behind the impressive façade…

Entry to the Merchant’s House is by guided tour at selected times. I was in a small group of four people plus our guide, Ilse.

Avebury Manor

Avebury Manor

Avebury forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site with Stonehenge. What people often don’t know about Avebury is that the stone circle is open and you can walk right up to the stones, picnic amongst them and access them at any time. Avebury is also different to Stonehenge in that there is a village within the stones.

Salisbury Museum

The brand-new Wessex Gallery

Set within Salisbury Museum, the Wessex Gallery is a brand-new exhibition space showcasing some of the archaeological finds from the south Wiltshire area including Stonehenge.

The gallery only opened on the 12 July and it’s pleasing to hear that so many people have visited it already. I was amazed by how different the space looked from the museum I visited many a time as a small child.

Wilton House

Wilton House: gardens and exhibitions

Just three miles west of Salisbury lies the historic town of Wilton. It’s home to Wilton House, a grand stately home which dates back to Tudor times.

Today I headed to the grounds and exhibition spaces as I’ve visited the house many times before having worked previously for the Wilton estate.

Stonehenge Neolithic Houses

Stonehenge Neolithic Houses

On a warm, sunny July day I ventured up to the new visitor centre at Stonehenge to see the recently opened Neolithic Houses.

The car park was busy and the visitor centre was buzzing with lots of people eagerly awaiting their visit to the site. As I ambled my way towards the Neolithic houses I passed beautiful poppies adorning the pathways and the adjacent fields.